Friday, December 31, 2010

Thai Red Curry Paste, Type 2

A lighter Thai red curry paste suitable for chicken and fish.

1 t coriander, ground
10-20 (or to taste) red chiles, preferably Thai
1/2 t cumin
4 shallots or green onions
2 lemon grass stalks, chopped, woody part discarded, or 6 T frozen shredded lemon grass
1/2 t black pepper, ground
2 cloves garlic
4 cilantro roots, or handful of leaves and stems
1 T galangal or ginger, grated
1 t tumeric
1/2 t shrimp paste
1 t salt
2 T vegetable oil
pinch cinnamon (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

Combine all in a food processor.

This curry paste doesn't keep quite as well as the red curry paste 1, but makes far less of it. This version is also much lighter in flavor so it won't completely kill fish or chicken.

Thai Red Curry Paste, type 1

A rich version of Thai red curry paste most suited to beef and game.

2 T coriander, ground
6-12 (or to taste) red chiles, preferably Thai
1 t cumin, ground
1 T paprika
1-2 t decorticated green cardamom, ground
1/2 t nutmeg, ground
zest of one orange
1/4 t cloves, ground
1/2 t cinnamon
1 stalk lemon grass finely chopped (if you don't chop it the food processor will have a hard time), discarding woody part of base, alternatively, 3 T frozen shredded lemon grass
1.5 T sugar
4 cloves garlic
1/2 t salt
2 cm galangal or ginger, peeled and grated
4 shallots or green onions
3 T shrimp paste
3-4 T lime juice
2 T vegetable oil

Combine all in a food processor.

This stuff is salty enough that it'll keep for a long time in the fridge, but makes enough that you should plan on freezing some. This particular version is best suited to richer meats like beef or game; a lighter version more suitable for chicken or fish is under Red Curry Paste 2.

Chinese Sausage

Round two of the end of the year sausage making is a first attempt at a Chinese inspired sausage:
2.5-3 lbs pork shoulder (add in some salt pork if the shoulder is too lean)
1/4 C soy sauce
2 T shaoxing wine
salt to taste
1-2 shallots
1 T sugar
1.5 T black bean paste
1 T sesame
1 t liquid smoke
2 T grated ginger
2-3 cloves garlic
Hot peppers to taste
8-10 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated
1 t pepper
2-3 t schezwan pepper corn, ground
3/4 t insta cure
salt to taste

Grind the pork, shallot, garlic, mushrooms, and chiles together. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, then stuff in to casings.

Thai Sausage

So the end of the year apparently means it's time to make sausage. The first of the sausage varieties is a Thai red curry sausage:

1 kg pork shoulder (add in some salt pork if it's too lean)
1/2 C coconut milk
2-3 T grated ginger
4 garlic cloves
4 shallots
Thai chiles to taste
2 t salt
1 t MSG
1/2 t insta cure
1/2 t ground pepper
4 T homemade red curry paste (type 1, suitable for meat)

Grind the meat, shallots, garlic, and chiles, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Stuff in to casings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Indian chicken alpha

This was just a first attempt at this one, but it turned out well enough for an alpha version to warrant posting. I'll probably end up playing with it, but I doubt I'll make too many changes.

1-2 t black mustard seeds
10 cloves
5 green cardamoms
bay leaf
1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh, trimmed and in bite size pieces.
1 onion, sliced
8-10 cloves garlic (in two batches)
half cup cream
1.5 T grated ginger
2 C chicken stock
Corn starch to thicken
handful dried chiles
cayenne to desired heat

Crackle mustard, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, and chiles in oil. Saute onion, half of garlic, and ginger. Saute chicken for a few minutes. Add chicken stock, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Make a slurry with corn starch and use to thicken. Add the rest of the garlic and simmer for a minute or two. Kill the heat and add the cream; serve with rice.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Asian Jerky

A basic idea of an Asian style beef/venison jerky.

1 lb flank steak trimmed of fat and cut with the grain in thin uniform slices
1/2 C soy sauce
1/8 C Chinese rice wine
2 T honey (maybe more)
1.5 T grated ginger
1.5 t garlic powder
crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
0.5 T instacure (sodium nitrite mix or the like; I know some people claim nitrites/nitrates are bad for you, but they've been used in food for centuries, and I wouldn't want to take cured meat on a hiking trip without it)

Combine all ingredients and marinate for 24 hours. Stick in a dehydrator at 140 F until thoroughly dry and fibrous, turning meat and rotating trays once.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Potato Soup with Roasted Garlic

2 lbs potatoes, peeled and rough cubed
1 head of garlic, roasted*
2 quarts chicken stock
2 C cream (or 1 C cream and 1 C half and half)
~2 t celery seed
1-1 1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 lb bacon, chopped
1/2 C flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped

*remove outermost peel, slice top off, seal in aluminum foil with a splash of olive oil. Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes

Saute the bacon over medium low until crisp, and remove bacon from pan (leave the fat and reserve the bacon).
Saute the onion in the bacon grease, then add the flour to make a roux. Cook this for a few minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste.
Boil the potatoes in the chicken stock until tender, then add the roux/onion mix everything except the reserved bacon and cream and allow to thicken (simmer for a few minutes). Add in the cream, then either blend with an immersion blender (or blender, food processor, etc...) for a smooth soup, or mash the hell out of it with a potato masher if you like chunks. If you choose to use the potato masher be sure to crush and mince the roasted garlic before adding. Heat on low stirring frequently for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Serve with cheese and the bacon.

Pork with Sage and Apples

2 lbs pork chops or tenderloin
1 1/2 C apple juice or cider
2 T dark rum
1 T oil
1 T prepared brown mustard
2 t sage
1 t ground dried chipotle
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 granny smith apples, pealed and chopped into fairly thin slices
2 T butter

Marinate the pork in the apple juice, vinegar, cognac, oil, and mustard for 2 hours. Drain the marinade (reserving it), rub the pork with the spices, reserving about a teaspoon, then cook in an oven or (better) grill. Reduce the marinade to about half, adding in the apple slices, spices and butter and cooking until apples are tender. Pour the sauce and apples over the pork and serve.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pot Stickers

An edit of my original pot sticker recipe now that I've figured out how to make the dough properly; it turns out that the secret is to add boiling water to the flour so that it gelatinizes the flour before cooking.

Hot-Water Dough:
5 C AP flour
2 C water
1 t salt

1 lb ground pork
2-3 leaves cabbage, in 1/2-3/4 inch julienne (or you could use some rehydrated black fungus)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 T shaoxing wine
1-2 T soy sauce
sprinkling of salt
1-2 t sesame oil
1 cm of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3/4 C soy sauce
2 green onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scant T shaoxing wine
pinch of sugar
1/2 t ginger juice

Combine the sauce ingredients at least an hour before, or better the day before to allow the flavors to blend.

Boil the water for the dough; while that is coming to a boil combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl or bowl for an electric mixer.  Add the boiling water and mix, either with an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon.  Set aside to cool.

While the dough is cooling combine the filling ingredients.

Roll the dough out into thin circles, roughly 3 inches in diameter (this can be done by hand, with a rolling pin, or with a tortilla press).  Keeping one half flat on the board, place a spoonful of the filling on the dough and fold the half circle up and over the filling, sealing with a little water.  This should give you a semi-circular dumpling with one flat side and one side mounded up with filling.

Heat a skillet over medium high with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan; when the oil is place a layer of dumplings in the skillet, flat side down.  Pour in 1/3 C of water, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid, and continue to cook until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

Simple sweet and sour sauce, without the red food coloring.

3/4 C unsweetened pineapple juice
3/4 C vinegar
3/4 C sugar
6 T ketchup
3 t cornstarch
1/4 C soy sauce

Mix all ingredients, cook over medium heat stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and the sauce clears somewhat.

Crab Rangoon

Crab rangoon just like you'd get at any Chinese restaurant.

8 oz cream cheese
8 oz crab (or fake crab for those of us on a budget, it works almost as well)
1/2 t worchestershire
1/2 t soy sauce
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t sesame oil
wonton wrappers
vegetable oil to deep fry

Mash the ingredients together with a fork, let sit for several minutes to combine, then being loading in to wonton wrappers. The easiest way is to put about a tablespoon in the middle, wet the edges, and fold one corner to the other, pressing to seal. If you're feeling fancy, fold both opposite corners together to seal; it looks better, but requires more oil to fry.
Fry at 350 F until golden brown, being careful not to overload the oil.
Serve with sweet and sour, and possibly a little Chinese mustard.


A smokey chili with a hint of sweetness and plenty of fire. As always, amounts are approximate.

1 lb ground beef
large can of black beans
1 can of red kidney beans (rinsed)
~2 t liquid smoke

1-2 onions, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 T cumin
1 t oregano
2 T dried ground ancho chiles
1 guajillo pepper, ground
small can of tomato paste
2 bay leaves
7 oz can of chipotles, chopped (use a 14 oz can if you can take the heat)
jalapenos to desired heat (serranos for a real kick), chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in a large pot with a little olive oil. When translucent add the jalapenos, cook for another couple of minutes before adding the ground beef and browning.

When the beef is cooked add all other ingredients except the tomato paste with enough water to cover. Simmer for an hour or two to blend the flavors and achieve the desired amount of liquid. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste is dissolved and the chili has thickened.

Potatoes with Chorizo

This is a recipe out of The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas which is just so good that I feel the need to share it. If you like it, go out and buy the cookbook, because everything in it is spectacular.

1 T olive oil
1/4 lb chorizo (or 10-12 1/8" slices of Spanish cured chorizo rather than Mexican)
3 slices bacon, chopped
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 T chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced

Heat the oil, saute the bacon; if using Mexican chorizo add it in when the bacon is about half done, otherwise you want the bacon most of the way to done, then add the chorizo and finish the bacon. Add the potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium high while covered until the potatoes are golden and done. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for a few minutes on medium high uncovered.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Classic Caeser Salad

Ingredients for 2-3 servings of dressing:
Freshly Ground Pepper
4-6 fillets of Anchovies cut up into small bits
1 - 1 1/2 T finely chopped Garlic
1 - 1 1/2 t Lee and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce
1/2 a lemon's juice
1 t Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk, preferably local free-range

Mix all these ingredients together, then add a good olive oil slowly while whisking until you get a creamy consistency. The flavors should not be too sharp... FYI the more oil you put in the dressing, the thicker the consistency gets. Make sure the dressing doesn't get too thick.

For the salad:
Shred romaine lettuce, toss with grated romano and crutons. Serve with dressing on the side, and possibly some anchovy fillets for those who like them.

Beef Wellington

Now that the holidays are approaching, it's time for a nice impressive main course for a special occasion, which definitely calls for beef wellington.

1 beef tenderloin
1 sheet puff pastry
1/4-1/2 lb prosciutto (enough to wrap the tenderloin)
2 T oil
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten with a little water

1/3 C olive oil
1/2 C chopped carrot
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped celery
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t sage
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
6 peppercorns
1 t salt
1 C dry vermouth
1/3 C cognac
one can beef broth
corn starch

1.5 lbs mushrooms, minced
4 T butter
4 T shallot, minced
1/2 C madeira wine
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the celery, onions, and carrot for the marinade with the herbs, then cool. Add the rest of the ingredients for the marinade except the beef broth and corn starch, cool, and add the beef. Marinate over night, reserving the marinade at the end.

Remove the beef from the marinade and dry. Season the beef tenderloin with salt and pepper; allow to sit at room temperature for an hour. Heat the oil in a steel skillet until extremely hot; sear the tenderloin on all sides then remove and allow to cool. Save any juices which run off the meat while cooling.

Use 2 T of the butter to saute the shallot and minced mushroom. When thoroughly cooked down add the wine, salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat, cool, then mix in the remaining 2 T butter. It should be noted that cooking the mushrooms should be done over medium to medium low heat, and will take some time.
Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap, and on that, lay out the prosciutto in an overlapping pattern such that every section ends up with two layers of prosciutto on it. Spread the mushroom mixture evenly over all of it. Put the beef tenderloin in it, folding the thin end back on the meat to achieve an even thickness of meat. Tightly roll it in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to set. Remove from the plastic wrap and wrap in the puff pastry (it may need to be rolled out to the length of the tenderloin).
Cut a few vent holes, and brush with egg wash. Bake 20 minutes in a 425 degree oven, then lower to 375 and bake an additional 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
While the beef is cooking, combine the marinade with the beef broth and simmer until a volume of 2 C is reached, adjusting seasoning. Strain and degrease, then thicken with cornstarch to desired consistency.
Serve the beef with the sauce on the side.


This is the best recipe I've found for making naan, a really good Indian flat bread; eat it as an accompaniment to most types of Indian food. This recipe is also easy to modify, adding things like finely chopped garlic to make garlic naan.

1 cup whole milk
2 t suger
2 T yeast
4 cups AP flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
2 T veg oil
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg

Scald the milk with the sugar, then let it cool to room temp
Add the yeast, stirring well.

Let the mixture sit until foamy.

Put the flour in large bowl, add salt, baking powder, oil, yogurt, and egg. Mix thoroughly.

Slowly add the floamy milk mixture.

Knead the dough until smooth, then put in greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Let it rise until approximately two times the original size ( about 1 hour).

Punch the dough down, then cut and roll into 12 balls; roll each ball flat.

To cook:
The easiest way is just to toast both sides in a cast iron skillet on the stove top, but you'll get better results if you stick a baking stone in an oven pre-heated to 450. When the oven is pre-heated, switch it over to a broiler on high and toss the dough on the baking stone and cook until golden.
When cooked, coat the naan with melted butter if desired.

Palak Paneer

6 T Ghee
5-6 cloves garlic
3 T grated ginger
6-10 dried red chile peppers or to taste
2 small onions, finely chopped (~ 1 C)
2-3 T ground cumin (start with 2, adjust to taste in last 15 minutes of cooking)
1-2 T ground coriander (start with 1, adjust to taste in last 15 minutes of cooking)
1 t ground turmeric
1 C sour cream
2 lbs fresh baby spinach, rinsed and destemmed
8 oz paneer or ricotta
salt and pepper to taste
2 shots of tequila per cook (see note)

In a large saucepan heat 4 T ghee and saute cumin and coriander until fragrant, then add in garlic, ginger, red chilies, and onion until brown.
Add turmeric and sour cream (add more or less to achieve desired creaminess).
Take a shot of tequila.
Add the spinach, handfuls at a time; I cook while I add, meaning about an hour of cooking, followed by 45 minutes over medium-low heat, half of that covered. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Pour spinach mixture into a blender or food processor, and blend until the spinach is finely chopped. Pour back into the saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
Take a shot of tequila.
In a medium frying pan heat 2 T of ghee over medium heat, and fry cheese until browned; drain and add to spinach. If you're using ricotta it will seem like the cheese is melting, just leave it checking periodically to see if it has browned; the cheese will eventually brown. Add cheese to spinach and cook for 10 minutes on low heat.
Season with salt to taste, and add in a little extra garlic and ginger and toss for a few minutes over heat.
Serve with fresh naan.

Note: the first time I made this I wasn't terribly organized and a friend of mine kept coming in to the kitchen going "TEQUILA!" and handing out shots. All of this resulted in a longer cooking process and being a little liberal with the spices; it also resulted in the stuff being delicious. The next time I made it there was no tequila involved and I cooked it far faster, but it was pretty horrible. The moral is, you can skip the tequila, but take your time and don't be afraid to up the spices if you think it needs it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


7 T soy sauce
6 T sugar
sprinkling dashi (japanese bullion base similar to bonito flakes)
5 T mirin (sweet japanese rice wine)
2 T sake
lean pork (typically two pork chops, adjust the amount of sauce appropriately for other amounts)
3 eggs
panko (japanese breadcrumbs)

Slice pork thinly (1/4 inch maximum), dip in egg and then panko. Fry in vegtable oil until golden brown and completely cooked. Slice cooked pork in to 1 cm wide strips.

Take two cup measuring cup, add one cup hot water, add first 5 ingredients.

Divide pork in to 3 portions. Put 2/3 C of the sauce in a wok, over moderately high heat add a portion of pork and bring to a boil; when boiling crack an egg into the mix and stir rapidly with cooking chopsticks or a fork until the egg is cooked. Remove batch from the wok and repeat for remaining batches.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Black forest cherry cake, something I should have added here a long time ago. This is a rich, moist, and chocolaty cake which can be quite a bit of work to make, but is well worth it for special occasions. Just make sure you make the cake at least a day ahead of time (two is better) and refrigerate it, or the amount of kirschwasser in the cake can make eating this like doing shots.

1 3/4 C flour
1 C brewed high quality coffee
1 t vanilla
1 C buttermilk
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 C sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder (use good stuff like Hershey's special dark)
1 t salt
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 eggs

Butter cream filling:
5 egg yolks
2/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 C unsalted butter, softened
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
3 T good quality Kirschwasser (a cherry brandy)

Whipped cream topping:
2 C heavy cream
1/3 C powdered sugar
2.5 T kirschwasser

Dark cherries, pitted, preferably fresh, but canned will work (drained if using canned).
4 T kirshwasser
1 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Start by buttering and flouring two 9" cake pans. In a large bowl mix together the dry cake ingredients, then slowly add in all the wet ingredients other than the coffee and mix to combine. Add in the coffee slowly while mixing. Pour in to pans and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until done. Remove pans from the oven and allow to cool.

Butter cream filling:
Beat egg yolks, then separately bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir while heating until the soft ball stage is reached (238 F). Very slowly whisk the sugar in to the egg yolks, being careful not to cook the egg. Mix in the butter, chocolate, and kirschwasser. Refrigerate for at least an hour before assembly, you want it as thick as possible for assembly.

Whipped cream:
Whisk cream while slowly adding in sugar and kirschwasser. Whisk it until it forms stiff peaks (this will take a hell of a lot of work if you try to do it by hand); be careful not to over-mix and form butter.

Split the cakes so you end up with four layers, and level off the top of one of them. Place the first layer and sprinkle with a 1 T kirschwasser, then spread butter cream filling. Be generous with the filling, and let it soak in for a couple of minutes. Top the layer with 15-20 halved cherries, put the second layer on and repeat. After the first three layers are on, put the fourth layer on (this should be the unleveled cake top), sprinkle with 1 T kirschwasser, and coat the top and sides with whipped cream topping. Decorate the top with halved cherries and shaved semi-sweet chocolate.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Curried Goat

So this can be made with other things than goat (lamb, top round of beef, or even inside round of venison), but honestly I have yet to find anything better than goat, and at least one friend from India claims goat is traditional. So go out there and find someone who sells it (try the middle eastern groceries first I believe something along the lines of Anz is Arabic for goat if you find someone whose English is a little shaky, but I didn't get that from a native speaker). It's cheap and lean, but failing that, lamb is acceptable, though if you want cheaper or just feel like committing Hindu blasphemy go with top round of beef. I shred it first, which is more eater friendly than is typical, but the end result is the same. Serve the stuff with a nice big pile of naan.

Here's a real general version of how I make it, though I tweak it some:

1 kg goat, in large cubes
2 bay leaves
3 black cardamoms
8 green cardamoms
6 t coriander
1 t cumin
2-3 T chopped garlic
2-3 T grated ginger
2/3 C oil
1 C chopped onion
1 t Chile powder
4 whole dried chiles
salt, pepper to taste
2/3 C tomatoes, chopped
1/2 t tumeric
2/3 C yogurt

Late cooking:
a couple cloves chopped garlic
1-2 t ginger

Marinate goat in yogurt and salt for at least an hour.
Heat the oil in a large pot and crackle bay leaves, dried chiles, and cardamoms (I usually lightly crack open the casings of the cardamoms with a mortar and pestle). Toss in the onions and cook until lightly browned, then add ginger and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add coriander, turmeric, cumin, and chile powder. Add the goat with the marinade, stir for a minute or two, then add water or stock to cover. Simmer it until approaching tender, then remove the lid to cook down to the desired consistency. Add tomatoes along with late cooking garlic and ginger, and again cook to desired consistency, making sure not to cook to long as you want some of the raw taste of garlic and ginger. One of the modifications that I usually make is pulling the goat pieces out before adding the tomatoes in and shredding them with a pair of forks (into about pulled pork kind of consistency), before adding it back for the final cooking. This may not be authentic, but I think it helps the texture and how moist it is. Eat with Naan.

Double or triple that recipe if you are lucky enough to get yourself a whole bone in leg of goat. Also be prepared to spend some time breaking it down (took me more than half an hour the first time, and I'd already broken down a couple of deer by then).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Basil and Pepper Chicken Alfredo

The recipe itself is a fettucini alfredo with basil and
cracked pepper chicken. You'll have to forgive the fact that I
don't have exact proportions on this so I'm just kind of
estimating; taste it as you go and decide how much you want to
put in.

For the alfredo sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
pinch nutmeg

For the chicken:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package Fresh basil (usually ends up being several handful
of leaves)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary
1-2 tbsp black pepper
olive oil
garlic 2-3 cloves

Start by cleaning the basil and carefully cutting the tops
with the flowers off, you'll need to save two of these as
garnish for the dish (I think it's a little better than the
customary parsley sprig). Slice the rest of the basil into
strips; set aside a small handful of the sliced basil to go
into the alfredo sauce, the rest will be cooked with the
chicken. Mince the garlic cloves. Using a spoon or a mortar
and pestle coarsely crack the black pepper (can use a pepper
mill, but it'll take a long time to grind that much pepper and
most pepper mills will grind it too finely). If you have a
mortar and pestle grind the rosemary, if not just crack it up
by hand.

In a large deep skillet heat the olive oil at a little more
than medium heat, saute the garlic until it is beginning to
turn a light golden; add the chicken. As the chicken is
cooking add the basil and pepper slowly, allowing the the
basil added before to cook down some before adding the next.
Completely cook the chicken and remove from heat.

In a small pot melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium
low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic
and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. The sauce will
look fairly thin at this point but will thicken as it cools.
Pour the sauce into the skillet with the chicken and add the
fresh basil, heat on low.

Cook the fettucini noodles according to instructions, strain
and add a small amount of olive oil to keep them from
sticking. Place fettucini on a plate and top with alfredo and
chicken, garnish with the basil flower.

To really make this impressive a few things should go with it;
make a good loaf of french bread and keep it warm (or buy and warm one), baked brie is an
excellent accompaniment to the french bread. A simple salad
with a light basil and rosemary vinaigrette is a nice starter,
and definitely get a bottle of wine for the meal (and
probably another for after). For the wine I would suggest a
flavorful red, but not one that is too dry (a merlot will
typically work well), and get a good bottle (spend more than
$15 a bottle unless you really know your wine, I would suggest
a merlot from benziger wineries, they tend to be less dry
wines with a good flavor, run about $18 a bottle, though it's
a hard winery to find).

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Breaded pork cutlet with an absolutely delicious mushroom and bacon gravy. Alright, so this probably isn't something your arteries would appreciate you eating with any regularity, but it made for a hell of a meal when served with some of the best looking asparagus I've seen in a long time (all the diameter of a pencil or less, so just a quick saute with salt, pepper, and a crushed garlic clove).

1 1/2 pounds pork loin, cut into slices and trimmed
1/4 - 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (based on enough to make a roux from the bacon drippings)
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t paprika
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 C cream
2 T dijon mustard
panko bread crumbs
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 diced small yellow onion
1/2 lb sliced button mushrooms
6 T red wine (burgundy)
oil for frying
1 cup beef stock
2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt to taste

Brown the bacon over medium to medium low heat, while that's browning, flatten the pork out using either a meat mallet or the back of a skillet.
Dip pork in egg, then coat with panko; fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown and fully cooked.
When the bacon is browned remove from the skillet, leaving the fat.
Saute the onion and garlic, then add in the mushrooms and saute.
Push the mushrooms, onion, and garlic to one side of the skillet, toss in the butter, and tilt the skillet to separate the fat from the veggies. Make a roux using the flour (1 C is approximate, use enough to make a roux of proper consistency); cook the roux for a minute or so.
Add the cream, milk, wine, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, parsley, and pepper and allow to cook until thickening.
Adjust the gravy to the proper consistency by adding the beef stock a little at a time and allowing to simmer.
Adjust seasoning to taste and serve on top of the breaded pork.

Greek Phyllo Roll

A favorite main course when I'm looking for something that looks fantastic, but doesn't involve too much work. Also nice is that a good chunk of the work can be done the day before.

2 T butter
1 small onion
1 1/2 lb ground beef, veal, or lamb
1 c chopped tomato (I often increase this and use a whole can of chopped tomato)
1.5-2 inch stick cinnamon
1/2-1 t basil
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c grated mizithra or kefalotyri cheese
1/2 t grated nutmeg
package phyllo (or half package for boxes with two plastic wrapped portions)
melted butter for brushing the phyllo
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 T chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 c whole milk
4.5 T butter
4.5 T flour


1. Melt butter in a large frying pan and saute the onion.
2. Add the meat and cook, then add the tomato and cinnamon, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Remove the lid, season appropriately, keeping in mind the cheese may add to the saltiness.
4. Remove the cinnamon stick, stir in the basil, and cool the meat.
5. When cool mix the egg whites into the meat; this mixture may be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
6. Sauce: Melt 4.5 T butter in a sauce pan and add the flour; whisk together and cook for a couple of minutes.
7. Add the milk and whisk together while cooking until a smooth sauce is obtained.
8. Add the egg yolks, cheese, and nutmeg to this, and taste for seasoning.
9. Prepare the phyllo base; I put down three pieces of phyllo per layer, putting one running length away from you and two running length parallel ( like l=), with the edges overlapping slightly to form a large rectangle.
10. Brush the whole thing with melted butter, then put down the next layer flipping which side the parallel pieces are on ( =l ).
11. Continue this until you've used the package and created a good base. Transfer this to a large pyrex dish (you want something with some sides on it to catch anything that leaks); don't worry if you overlap the edges of the dish a little, as you'll be rolling this with the filling in it.
12. Spread half the sauce on the base, leaving margins around the edges for rolling.
13. Lay the sliced eggs on the sauce, sprinkle with parsley, then add the meat mixture.
14. Add the rest of the sauce. Roll it up and flip so the seam side is down in the pan; this can be a little messy.
15. Place in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.
16. Notes: Both mizithra and kefalotyri cheese add different flavors, and both can be hard to find if you're not in an area with a lot of ethnic groceries; I'm lucky in that there are about 20 around here. I've only made it with kefalotyri once (only found it once), but prefer mizithra anyway. In a pinch (when in lands populated primarily by culinary heathens) I've actually substituted a good white cheddar; it's good, but just not the same.
17. As far as the meat, I'm usually short on money so I use ground beef and it works out well, but both ground veal and ground lamb would be delicious.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mushroom and Cheese Ravioli with Smoked Tomato Cream Sauce

Fresh pasta (and I'm swiping this from Batali; it also makes far more than you'll need, but fresh pasta is a wonderful thing):
3.5 C AP flour
4 extra large eggs

For the filling:
8 oz full fat ricotta
1/4 C romano or parmesan
8 oz mushrooms, minced
1-2 shallots, minced
2 T butter

For the sauce:
~2C heavy cream
two moderate handfuls of smoked tomatoes*

Salt and pepper to taste in both the sauce and filling

*I smoked the tomatoes myself; I made these by mostly dehydrating them then sticking them over low temperature but intense smoke. To be exact I used Mortgage Lifter and Amish Paste (heirloom varieties that aren't too sweet when fresh) tomatoes over a charcoal fire adding fresh wet hickory every 30-45 minutes or so for 2 hours without letting the temperature get past 200 F in the smoker. If the tomatoes weren't sufficiently dry for cabinet storage after the smoker I dehydrated them further until crisp.

Make a well in the pasta, add in the eggs and beat the eggs.
Mix in the flour, adjusting flour/water so you have a just slightly sticky pasta.
Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Let's be honest, you didn't knead it enough, knead it some more.
Let it rest for 20 minutes.
Now, you can either use a pasta maker, or a rolling pin. If using a rolling pin you might as well double the prep time, and you'll have to guess about the thickness of the dough, because I did all this using the settings on my pasta maker.
Start on the thickest setting, run the dough through, run it through again, fold it in half lengthwise, run it through, then run it through again (flouring as necessary).
Repeat that for each setting on the pasta maker until you reach either the next to thinnest or thinnest setting (depending on the amount of pasta you want to your filling and how much chew you want). This develops the gluten and makes for a somewhat chewy (when al dente) pasta to contrast with a creamy sauce and filling.

Melt the butter then saute the shallot.
Add in the mushrooms, salt and pepper (keep in mind the romano will add to the salt), and saute over medium or medium low until you've cooked pretty much all the moisture out of the mushrooms.
Allow the mushrooms to cool some, before adding them to the ricotta and romano and food processoring to thoroughly combine.
Check and adjust seasoning.

Toss the cream and the smoked tomatoes in a sauce pan and bring to a low simmer (don't let it come to a full boil). Keep it here for about 20 minutes.
Add salt and pepper, then puree either with a blender or stick blender. The tomatoes should provide all the thickening agent the sauce needs, but a little romano could be okay if it's not quite there.

Cut the pasta sheet in half, and on one half space out teaspoons worth of the filling leaving enough room to cut individual ravioli.
Seal the other sheet of pasta on top (which may require a little water or egg wash if your pasta is dry, you want a solid seal), trying to minimize the amount of air around the filling.
Cut the pasta using an appropriately sized ring mold or similar (or even a sharp knife if that's all you have, but then be prepared to increment up the prep time).

Dump the ravioli in a large amount of salted water at a high boil, and cook to desired doneness (I tend to go for quite al dente).
Spoon the sauce on top, sprinkle a little parmesan and maybe some chopped parsley and serve.

*Additional notes: This is the alpha version of this recipe (came up with it tonight), and all amounts are approximate. That said, the way it turned out, I'd crawl across broken glass for seconds. This also strikes me as a recipe where you could do everything except the sauce and the cooking of the finished ravioli the day before, or even freeze the uncooked ravioli so you could cook the ravioli and make the sauce in a few minutes for a short notice special dish.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheesecake with Mango Glaze

2 C AP flour
1/2 C sugar
2 t fresh lemon zest, finely grated
1/2 t fresh orange zest, finely grated
1 t vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1/2 C softened butter
little water to moisten dough if needed

5 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 C sugar
3 T flour
2 t frest lemon zest, finely grated
1 T fresh orange zest, finely grated
1/4 t vanilla extract
5 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 C + 1 t heavy cream

juice of half a lemon
juice of half an orange
juice of two mangos*
pinch ginger powder
1/4 t turmeric
1 t sugar
2 t cornstarch

*for the mango juice, seed and peel the mangos, then either pass through a juicer (preferred), or food processor and strain through a double layer of cheese cloth.

Mix flour, sugar, then blend in the vanilla, lemon and orange zest. Blend in butter and egg yolks; you may have to add a little water if the dough crumbles too easily. Grease a 9 inch spring form pan, and roll out a portion of the dough on to the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake the bottom only in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes. When done, remove and allow to cool. Place the sides on the pan, and start applying the dough to the sides (this is probably most easily done with your fingers). You want a uniform layer, making sure to seal to the bottom of the pan and come up to the top. This recipe makes more dough than you'll need, so save the rest if you want an interesting crust on a lemon meringue pie. Pre-heat the oven to 450.

In a large mixing bowl beat all the ingredients together, adding the eggs last and one at a time. Mix this until smooth, scraping the bowl down with a spatula periodically.

Pour the filling in to the spring form pan with the crust and bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 250 and bake for an hour more. The center will still seem liquidy when you remove the cake (and the end product will be very creamy, further cooking can make this more cake like, but that's not how I like it). Cool the cake at room temperature for at least two hours, then refrigerate over night.

Bring the mango juice and the sugar to a simmer, meanwhile, mix the lemon juice, orange juice, ginger, turmeric, and corn starch. Mix this in to the mango juice and simmer until reduced by about half, or until it reaches desired thickness. Refrigerate this over night as well, then apply before serving.