Lamb Hash

Mon, Mar 24 • 2

I started off by dicing a large russet potato and parboiling it for 10 minutes in well salted water. Then I sauteed some sliced onions and shallots. Once they were soft, I removed them to a bowl, and then browned off a pound of ground lamb, and removed it to the bowl. There was quite a bit of lamb fat left in the pan, that I probably should have drained off. Instead, I added a little more butter for browning, and tossed in the potatoes, and let them cook for 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Once they were golden brown on the edges, I poured the lamb and the onions back in. I seasoned it all with a little smoked paprika (which I’m apt to put on just about anything these days, except maybe vanilla ice cream), and a tuscan season blend made up of thyme and sage, as well as some ground black pepper. At this point, the potatoes were starting to break down on me, and a good deal of fond was left at the bottom of the pan, so I added a little chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan. Had I had a waxier potato, like a couple yukon golds, I would have used them. In the last few minutes, I tossed in some frozen edamame, popped on a lid for a few minutes, to let them thaw and steam.

I probably didn’t use the lamb to it’s full advantage, but it was fast, and tasty.

Chicken Braciole with Pasta

Sun, Mar 16 • 0

I thought this recipe up on the way to the grocery store, as a fall back if nothing else looked appealing. I think I need to work more on the execution, but it had good flavor. I was lazy and used pre-cut thin chicken cutlets, jarred pesto and jarred pasta sauce. I think it might have ended up better if I pounded the chicken cutlets or used bigger cuts, because the innards just oozed out and burnt during the browning stage. I also think the jarred sauce was a little too much, and I probably could have gotten away with making a simple marinara with canned tomatoes in the food processor.  I also tied the cutlets into the round, but it probably would have been better to pin them with toothpicks, as it was tricky to cut the strings with the thick pasta sauce clinging everywhere.

a quantity of chicken breast cutlets, pounded flat
seasoning (salt, pepper, smoked paprika)
sliced mozzarella
seasoned flour
tomato sauce
cooked pasta

I sprinkled the seasoning on the cutlets, then rubbed them with pesto, added a slice of mozzarella  and rolled them up and tied them. I tossed them in a little flour while some olive oil and butter heated up in a skillet. Over medium heat, I browned the cutlets on all sides, then added the tomato sauce, and let them simmer for 10 or 15 minutes while the pasta cooked.

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Sun, Mar 16 • 0

I’ve been using a tiny little one-serving crockpot to make my morning breakfast this past week. It’s turning out pretty well. ¼c steel cut oatmeal, 1¼c liquid, and a pinch of salt. Plug it in and let it sit all night. I’ve been putting dried fruit in, along with a splash of fruit juice. I tried putting chopped pecans in, but I think they’re better when you add them in the bowl before you eat it. I find the end result does require a little sweetener, so I add a tablespoon or so of maple syrup. It’s definitely a little tricky to clean. To help in this end, as soon as I scoop out the oatmeal, I fill the little crock with water, because once the oatmeal dries, it might as well be cement. Others, I’ve heard, use a little souffle ramekin, slightly smaller in diameter than the crockpot.

Update, 4/11/08 : I’ve settled on a standard recipe. 1/3rd plus 2T of oats, plus 1¾c of water, a pinch of salt, and a small handful of Trader Joe’s dried orange-flavored cranberries in the little crock pot. I let it sit overnight, and in the morning, I line the bottom of the bowl with black raspberries, and I cover it with the oatmeal, and I add a splash of grade-b maple syrup to slightly sweeten it. As for cleaning the little crockpot : as soon as I empty it, I take a butter knife and slide it underneath the band of browned oatmeal that forms over the heating element. It’s sort of a game to try an make it all come off in one long piece. I imagine I could eat it, but I just toss it out. The the remainder of the residue left in the little crock is easily cleaned out with a little water. According to the label on the oatmeal, this quantity of it is heart-friendly and more apt to help you lower your cholesterol.

Fish Au Gratin

Sat, Mar 15 • 0

This recipe goes against everything I’ve been told about fish and cheese. They’re not supposed to go together. You never put parmesan on, say, shrimp and linguine. This recipe has loads of cheese… three kinds, in fact, and it tastes pretty darned good. When I made it, I picked up a fillet of orange roughy and a good sized slab of mahi-mahi because it was on sale, but you can use any fish you like. And you don’t need to stick to fillets. Whole fish, cut up and made into 1 inch steaks would work, too. And you don’t need to cut the skin off the fillets. You’ll be poaching them first, and when they come out of that, the skin and the bones will come out easily. Adding the lemon juice to the white sauce is more than just for flavor. It denatures the cheese, and makes it less likely to go all stringy on you.

2 or 3 fish fillets, whatever looks good at the market.
2T vinegar
½lb  frozen ez-peel shrimp (optional)
1c shredded gruyere
½c shredded emmentaler
¼c shredded parmesan
2T butter
3T flour
1 green onion, chopped
¼c white wine / hard cider / cognac
2c milk
zest of 1 lemon, plus the juice from ½
salt, pepper
fresh grated nutmeg

In a saucepan of water, poach the fish fillets and shrimp in with the vinegar for about 15 minutes. Drain, and cool, and then remove any skin, bones, or shells, or otherwise inedible bits, and break the fillets into bite sized chunks and put it all in a gratin dish.

Meanwhile, saute the onion in the butter, and add the flour to make a roux. Add the alcohol, and let that bubble away for a bit, then add the milk, and make a white sauce. Off the heat, add the cheeses, the zest and the lemon juice. Ladle over the fish. Cook in a 375° oven for 45 minutes. Serve over rice.

Glazed Ham Steak

Mon, Mar 10 • 0

42-15440608.jpgI think it was supposed to be Dorthy Parker who said that the definition of eternity is two people and a whole ham. A whole ham is a great, economical way to feed a crowd of people, but for two people, it’s way too much of a commitment. I’ve foolishly attempted to buy a whole ham and cook it up for the two of us, and by day four, my imagination on how to eat it for another meal has completely unraveled, and I’ve begun looking for ways to get rid of it.

That’s why the ham steak was invented, I think. It’s enough ham for one or two meals, and then you’re done. Pick a hamsteak that looks like it used to be part of a pig. If it has a bone in it, all the better. The overly pink and round ones are mystery meat, and have a way too spongy consistency. Once you have them, here’s a good way to make it, and you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

¼c maple syrup
1T dijon mustard
1T cider vinegar

Mix all of these things in a bowl and brush one side of the ham slice, and put it in a frying pan over medium heat. Brush the upside while the bottom side sizzles a bit. Turn it over every few minutes, and brush the thickening run off back onto the steak. Watch the heat, because maple syrup is just sugar, and it can burn pretty quickly.


Mon, Mar 10 • 0

42-17691335-1.jpgEvery few months, I’ve been making a big pot of bolognese sauce. It freezes really well, and I put it in little single serving containers that my wife takes to eat at work. It does take a very long while to cook — on the order of 6 or 7 hours, total, but it doesn’t really need to be attended to all that much. One of the keys is to use some sort of heat tempering device. Without one, even my heavy Le Cruset dutch oven will get hotspots and the sauce will burn onto the bottom. What I do, just before I add the tomatoes is to put the whole pot into my biggest cast iron frying pan. This will temper the hot spots and transfer the heat more evenly to the bottom of my cooking pan. I’ve never had my sauce burn, even with the long, unattended simmering this recipe calls for.

Keep reading…

Southern Fried Chicken – “The Virginia Way”

Sun, Mar 9 • 1

rwf-chicken.jpgFunny how my brother and I sometimes end up being simpatico but always with slightly different perspectives. My wife had been talking about feeding our kids Kentucky Fried Chicken when I ran into a deal at our local Asian food market – chicken legs for 69 cents a pound. I knew I had to use the chicken legs immediately (there presumably was a reason why they were on special).

Soup was a possibility, but my boys love fried chicken. So fried chicken it would be (and no, I had not seen my brother’s posting before making this decision).

So, as my brother asks: “what breading?” I started making a batter coating that has been successful in the past, but then thought better of it. I grew up in Connecticut, but I now live in Virginia. How do Virginians make southern fried chicken?

To find the answer, I looked in some of my favorite southern cookbooks. [Footnote: Camille Glenn’s The Heritage of Southern Cooking is a true authority from which I have learned a lot. I also sometimes look at Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking since I know it’s meticulously researched. I haven’t picked up the Lee brother’s book yet, but plan to one of these days.]

The authorities I consulted were consistent: the coating is flour mixed with some salt and pepper (Claiborne cautions that “pepper is important in this recipe”). Thus, Southern Fried Chicken is really very simple. Take some chicken. Rinse and dry it. Coat it in flour mixed with some salt and pepper (you can shake in a bag if you like). Shake off the excess. Fry in hot oil (preferably in a large cast iron skillet) for 8 minutes, turn over and fry another 12 minutes (or more) until it’s “cooked through”. (Ms. Glenn talks about covering the skillet for the first eight minutes, presumably to reduce the spatter. She has you take off the cover when you turn it because you have to watch it).

How do you know when it’s “cooked through”? Good question. Undercooked chicken is dangerous. This is where experience comes in. Ms Glenn has the experience to know when its done just right. Lacking that, do what I did – simply take out a piece, cut it up and see if it’s done.

Other variations: Claiborne tells you to soak the chicken in milk with some tabasco sauce for an hour before your coat. I did not do this. Claiborne seems to always put in something extra to make it special. I knew my boys wanted plain old fried chicken.

Of course, eating this stuff every day is not good for you. It’s also not good for your kitchen – the oil spatters and you have a big mess to clean up. But the kids do love it!!

Any real southerners out there with comments? How did your grandmother make fried chicken?

Fried Chicken

Sat, Mar 8 • 0


This is how I make fried chicken…

Keep reading…

My Recent Penzey’s Spice Order

Fri, Mar 7 • 0 — the descriptions are from their website.

Quan Item No. Description Price
—- ———– ——————————- ————–
1 48040 Smoked Spanish Paprika 4 oz.bag $4.59

Rich, colorful Spanish Paprika, naturally smoked over traditional oak fires. Awesome flavor and perfect color, good on just about everything. Sprinkle on chicken and fi sh before cooking, add to sauces, soups and salad dressings.

1 29454 Smoky 4/S Special Seasoned Sea Salt 4.0 oz. 1/2 Cup jar $2.39

This smoky version of our 4/S gives a delicious smoky burst of flavor wherever salt is called for. Like other seasoned salts, Smoky 4/S is great for steaks, burgers, chops, chicken, fish, veggies, popcorn and more. Hand-mixed from: Coarse Sea Salt, Smoked Paprika, Sugar, Special Extra Bold Black Pepper, Turmeric, Onion, Garlic, Spice Extractives (including oleoresin of paprika, black pepper, celery, rosemary and thyme).

1 10445 Bavarian Style Seasoning 4 oz. bag $4.79

Growing up in the Penzey family, one of our favorite Sunday dinners was Gram’s special recipe of veal, pork, potatoes, onions and carrots, all roasted to a golden brown in the same pan, seasoned with her simple, yet delicious blend of herbs and spices. Bavarian is also great on turkey breast, rub on 1-2 tsp. per lb. For added zest, sprinkle with lemon juice or salt. Rub on pork, lamb or veal chops with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and grill over medium heat. Also, a traditional English seasoning for leg or rack of lamb. Hand-mixed from: crushed brown mustard, rosemary, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and sage.

1 13259 French Four Spice 2.4 oz. 1/2 cup jar $5.79

A must for Country French dishes, such as pork chops, potato casseroles and stew with red wine. French Four Spice is traditionally used for pork, beef and rabbit. Hand-mixed from: white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cloves.

1 27142 Rocky Mountain Seasoning 4 oz. bag $5.69

A versatile blend of Parmesan cheese, bell peppers and shallots. Sprinkle on salad, in yogurt or sour cream for dip, use 2 TB. per Cup. Use to season quiche, chicken or veal cutlets. Hand-mixed from: bell peppers, Parmesan cheese [part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, cellulose powder, potassium sorbate], salt, sesame, poppy, shallots, arrowroot, white pepper.

1 13833 Mignonette Pepper 1.0 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.19

A classical blend, also known as “shot pepper,” of cracked Tellicherry black pepper, Muntok white pepper and flavorful Moroccan coriander. Traditional in French-Canadian cooking and roasting large cuts of beef, lamb or poultry. Excellent on a thick grilled steak or veal chop. Great in a table grinder. Use ½-1 tsp. per pound.

2 58430 3 Madagascar Vanilla Beans $13.78

Regarded as the world’s best, Madagascar beans set the standard for prime vanilla flavor.



Cooks Illustrated Almost No-Knead Bread

Fri, Mar 7 • 0

Although you need a login to see their video about the process (or go to iTunes), you can now see the recipe for their modified No-Knead bread recipe (2.0) for free.

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