Roasted Summer Bounty Sauce

Sat, Jul 14 • 0

When the production of your garden really starts to kick in during the summer, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with the bounty. This recipe helps, because by roasting down all of the vegetables, you intensify their flavor. And you’ll love the aroma of the roasting vegetables.

Aside from the tomatoes and the garlic, you can add or subtract any vegetable, depending on what you have too much of. Swap eggplant and/or zucchini in place of the carrots. Add some bell peppers if you have them.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, combine:

6 pounds tomatoes (plums are best, but some additional cherry tomatos will sweeten the sauce), cored and quartered
1½ c. coarsely chopped carrots (optional)
1½ c. coarsely chopped celery (optional)
1½ c. coarsely chopped onions
9 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
6 T. balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1½ t. each fresh thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley
1½ t. salt
1 T. freshly ground pepper

Roast all of these for 45 minutes or until everything is soft (I’ve left it going for almost 2 hours with no ill-effects). Remove the bay leaf and whatever herb stems you can find, and pulse in a food processor or blender or even a hand whizzer, but leave it slightly chunky. Freeze in 2 cup portions. Makes 2 quarts.


Best Damn Smoked Chicken Recipe, period

Mon, Jan 9 • 0

This may be the best thing that could ever happen to a chicken.

I get a whole lot of compliments on this one. There are some members of my extended family who insist I bring this to any family gathering, regardless of the time of year. The technique of putting lit coals over top of unlit coals ensures a nice, long burn, and will provide enough heat for the 2-hour long cooking time. This recipe specifically relies on using a Webber kettle grill. You’ll need to further experiment in order to come up with the proper technique for a different kind of grill.

2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each
2 fist-sized lumps of chunk fruit wood
1 aluminium drip pan, 10×14
20 – 30 charcoal briquettes
cooking spray
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
7 quarts of water

Take two chickens and cut them each into 8 pieces — 2 breasts, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs. Save the rest for chicken stock. Brine the chicken in 6 quarts of water that you’ve dissolved a cup of sugar and a cup of salt for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the chicken from the brine and dry with paper towel. Season it with pepper, and spray both sides with cooking spray.

Soak wood in water for 15 minutes. (I’ve tried both apple and cherry wood, and can’t detect any difference in flavor, but do avoid mesquite because it’s just too strong a flavor.)

Light half a chimney full of briquettes and let burn in chimney until the top is white with ash. In your kettle grill, put an aluminum pan on one side and fill it with a quart of water. On the other side, put in 20 unlit briquettes, and nestle the wood chunks in it. Close the top and bottom vents of the grill to the halfway point. Pour the lit charcoal over top of the wood and the unlit charcoal, and put on the grill, and let it heat for 5 minutes with the lid on, then clean the grill and put on the chicken, skin side up, and putting the breasts around the outside, over top of the pan of water, furthest from the heat. Put the cover back on, and let the chicken cook undisturbed for 90 to 120 minutes.


Sherwood Gourmet

Wed, Jul 27 • 0

There’s a little sandwich shop named Sherwood Gourmet, not too far from where I live, that I’ve been trying to help stay in business all summer long, even though they managed just fine without me for over 2 decades. My wife suggested we try it one day, and I’ve been going once or twice a week, feeding myself, my wife, and any number of my nephews, who have been working to help get my back yard into some kind of shape. Their prices there are only slightly more expensive than those at the Subway chain, so we’re trying to work our way through their extensive menu of sandwiches. Mind you, there are about 2 dozen different choices from their list of standards and all have been very good, but here are some stand outs worth recommending.

#1 — Little Italy :  Mortadella, capicolla, salami, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, oil & vinegar, hot peppers, on a kaiser roll.  This is a popular sandwich among my small circle of taste-testers. One nephew has ordered it twice, though he’s decided it needs extra hot peppers. I think the amount they put on is fine. $6.99

#2 — Suzanne’s Favorite (aka The Suzy) : Smoked turkey, black forest ham, havarti cheese, lettuce, honey mustard, on rye. This is my wife’s sandwich of choice. $6.50

#3 — The Hawaiian : Sweet challah bread, avocado, chicken tarragon salad. I have no idea why this is even remotely related to Hawaii. Maybe it used to use hawaiian sweet bread at some point. The chicken salad has a noticable and pleasant tarragon flavor. I think I prefer this on whole wheat, though. $5.99

#4 — Sherwood Egg Salad : Egg salad on toasted pumpernickle with lettuce. As simple and basic as it gets but very satisfying. $4.50

#5 — Bumble Bee: Black forest ham, smoked turkey, swiss, onions, honey mustard, on challah. The onions provide a nice bite. We prefer it on something other than the challah, though. $5.99

Honorable mentions :

FCPD (presumably “Fairfax County Police Department”) : Hot pastrami, provolone, on a baguette toasted with onions, yellow mustard, a little mayo, and pickles. This is a pretty huge sandwich. One nephew managed to finish it, but decided he’d eaten too much. It’s a hot sandwich. I’ve yet to order it and taste it for myself. $6.50

South of France : Pate de Champagne, brie, dijon mustard, lettuce on a baguette. This is a rich sandwich. You have to really like pate to enjoy it. We’ve ordered it a couple of times. I found the pate to be a little much, but one nephew calls this sandwich his favorite. It’s also the most expensive sandwich on the menu. $7.50

The staff that works there is incredibly friendly, and if you can’t find something that appeals on their regular menu, they’ll happily make substitutions, or help you come up with something that suits you exactly. I still have a bunch more sandwiches to try. In the meantime, you should go visit them at 7900 Andrus Road, in Alexandria, VA, two blocks south of the Sherwood Hall Library.

Sherwood Gourmet
703-799-4041
M-F 7a-7p Sat 9a-6p Sun 10a-4p


Frenchman’s Franks & Beans

Tue, Mar 29 • 0

1 T olive oil
1 large leek

1 stalk of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 small to medium russet potato, peeled and quartered
stock
or water
1 cup puy lentils
bunch of fresh spinach, chopped fine

salt & pepper

3 T balsamic or other vinegar
1 lb. (4) sausages (optional for vegetarians)

Trim and clean the leek, concentrating on the white and pale part, and cutting it into a small dice. (Reserve some of the dark green part for later.) Put in a heavy bottomed sauce pan with olive oil and the celery and carrot, and cook until the leeks have gone soft, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make a bundle of the herbs and tie it inside the reserved dark green leek with some kitchen string, add it and the potato, and the lentils to the pot, and cover with water or stock (or both). Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, monitoring to make sure the water doesn’t completely boil away before the lentils are tender but chewy.

Pierce the sausages with a fork, and cook them in a little simmering water, covered, for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove the lid, and let the water evaporate. If the sausages don’t shed enough grease while they are simmering, add a little butter or olive oil, and, turning frequently, brown over medium low heat.

When the lentils are tender, remove the herb bundle, and mash the potato (now softened) on the side of the pan to thicken the sauce. Add the chopped spinach and let it all cook down for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste for seasoning, and add the vinegar. Slice the sausages, and serve on top of the lentils.

One serving of the lentils is ½ cup, and is 3 points. One Whole Foods chicken sausage with basil and sun dried tomatoes is 4 points.


Hungarian Goulash

Sat, Mar 12 • 0

2 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lb boneless beef shank, or normal stew beef, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
Kosher salt & pepper
2 large onions, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 t caraway seeds, toasted and ground
3 T Hungarian sweet paprika
3 T all-purpose flour
2 T red wine vinegar
1 15 oz can tomatoes, diced
2 c low sodium beef broth
2 c low sodium chicken broth, or water
2 large russet potatoes, cubed
½ c lite sour cream
8 oz wide egg noodles, cooked according to package

Preheat the oven to 450°. Roast the peppers on the rack for 15 or 20 minutes, turning once. Remove them from the oven, and put them in a paper sack until they are cool enough to handle. Pull out the core, remove the skin and all of the seeds, and slice into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Reduce the oven to 350°.

Trim the fat from the beef, brown in small batches in a dutch oven. Pour off the oil if it is scorched, and replace with fresh. Cook the onion until it is wilted, then add the garlic, the roasted red pepper, and the spices and cook until fragrant. Add the flour and stir until dissolved. Add the vinegar, tomatoes, and stock (or water) and bring to a simmer. Clamp on the lid, and put it in the oven for 1 hour in the oven.

Stir in the potatoes, and cook partially covered either in the oven or on the stovetop until the potatoes are tender. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the sour cream. At this point, you might decide to let the whole thing cool and then refrigerate for a day. (Some people think it improves the flavor.) When ready, serve over egg noodles.


Thanksgiving Recipes

Wed, Nov 24 • 0

Here’s a list of recipes and techniques from the archives.

What’s a “Heritage” Turkey? — information on whether you should bother with this expensive variety of turkey.

My Turkey Plans — This post has a recipe and instructions for brining a turkey.

Roasted Turkey : An Old-Fashioned Method — Larding a turkey has you putting sliced bacon or salt pork on the turkey to keep it moist.

Wild Rice Stuffing — With chestnuts and onions, this recipe works well with any poultry dish.

Broccoli Supreme — An easy side dish with broccoli and creamed corn that everyone loves. It’s easily doubled or tripled, and don’t count on leftovers.

Here’s a new recipe for cranberry relish. Take a bag of whole cranberries and pick out the soft ones. Put them in a wide saucepan along with a little water and bring it to a boil along with a cup of sugar and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer, along with a diced apple, some finely chopped orange peel and the juice of the same orange. Optionally, you can toss in a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans and/or some chopped orange segments. You can also optionally spice it up with some cinnamon, ground star anise, or ground cloves.  Cook until the cranberries have all popped and the sauce thickens. Cool, then chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.


Wild Rice Stuffing

Sun, Nov 7 • 0

Tried this in a chicken last week. I’m usually against putting stuffing inside a chicken or a turkey, since it means longer cooking time, and increases the chances of bacteria, but I figured if I didn’t make the stuffing too tightly packed, and if I put it in the bird hot, just before roasting it, I could get away with it. The cooking time did end up being longer than I expected, but that may have been due to the chicken being larger than I usually go with (4½ pounds as opposed to 3). In the end, I think I liked it more than my wife did.

The following quantities are for a 3-5 pound chicken, but you could increase it for a larger bird, like a turkey. The recipe still needs fine tuning, and you could easily swap out or omit some of the items. For example, replacing the onion with shallots or leeks. You could replace or augment the chestnuts with the chicken or turkey’s giblets. (Note: I was enticed into making up this recipe by an article and recipes in the Washington Post food section. In it, they talk about the best place to buy prepared, steamed chestnuts, and that’s apparently Trader Joes. They sell them in skinny maroon-colored boxes, nearish the flour and other baking supplies in my local store.)

1 cup prepared basmati and wild rice mix (fully cooked)
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup chopped celery (ideally, the light yellow stalks and leave tops from the heart)
¼ cup chopped steamed chestnuts
liquid: vegetable or chicken broth, white wine, vermoth, or water
herbs: sage leaves, fresh thyme, to taste, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Prepare the rice ahead of time, and allow to cool. Avoid adding salt at this stage.

In a frying pan, soften onion and celery in butter or olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds). Add rice and chestnuts, and enough liquid to moisten, and allow it to  all get quite hot. Remove from heat, and taste for salt and pepper. You want it to be saltier than normal, since it’s going to flavor the whole bird from the inside. Add the herbs at this point, too.

Spoon the hot stuffing into the cavity, being careful not to pack it too tightly. Tie the opening closed with kitchen string. Roast in a hot oven (425°) until the juices run clear when you pierce the flesh near the thigh. Allow the chicken to rest, then cut the string and spoon out the stuffing before carving.


Roasted Delicata

Thu, Oct 21 • 0

In one way, I think my wife usually dreads the autumn, because that’s when I start doing things with winter squash. For the most part, she’s not into them. I think it has something to do with the way they sort of stick to your teeth, and their tendency to be sweet like sweet potatoes (also not on her list of favorites). So I was pretty surprised by her reaction to roasted and sliced delicata squash.

The delicata squash is ovoid in shape, with slight ribs running along its length. Their default color seems to be a light, creamy yellow, but that’s streaked with orange and green most times. They’re relatively easy to peel compared to most other winter squash, as the skin is smooth and mostly unblemished. I use a Y-peeler for the main body, pulling it towards me as I go, and a normal peeler for the rounded ends, which I trim off mostly anyway. I cut it in half, and core out the seeds and guts with a spoon. Then I slice the meat in quarter inch slices, toss them in olive oil and salt, and spread them on a foil lined baking sheet. I cook them in a hot oven, 425, for about an hour, tossing them halfway through.

The result is almost like french-fries, but with more fiber. She especially likes the dark and crispy caramelized parts. I bet if your kids don’t like to eat vegetables, they’ll dig these, too.


Coca Cola Barbeque Sauce

Fri, Aug 20 • 1


12 oz / 355 mL Coca Cola
1½ c / 355 mL Heinz ketchup
1 medium onion, chopped fine
¼ c / 60mL cider vinegar
¼ c / 60 mL Worcestershire sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t salt
hot sauce (Tabasco, Texas Pete) to taste

Bring all of the ingredients just to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes as sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Use immediately or jar it up, and keep it in the fridge for a month or so.

Optional: Replace the Coke with your favorite root beer.

 


Rikers Island Carrot Cake

Mon, Aug 16 • 0

Each batch makes 25 nine-and-a-half-pound loaves of carrot cake. The kitchen crew at Rikers apparently make 2,500 loaves of this cake a year, which is served on holidays. Each loaf serves 20 inmates. As for the quantities, I don’t recommend down-sizing the quantities and hoping to get the same results. My grandmother-in-law, Edna Macnamer, used to run a bakery in rural Tennessee, and she’s been frustrated trying to replicate some of her favorite recipes scaled down for her own home kitchen. Still, if you should happen to have access to an industrial mixer and 200 eggs, you might consider whipping this one up.

25 pounds sugar
3 gallons vegetable oil
25 pounds flour
8 ounces salt
1 pound baking powder
8 ounces baking soda
6 ounces nutmeg
6 ounces allspice
4 ounces clove powder
4 ounces ginger
8 ounces cinnamon
25 pounds carrots
25 pounds eggs (about 250 large eggs!)
8 pounds walnuts
20 pounds raisins
8 ounces vanilla extract

  • Place in a mixing bowl – sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove powder, allspice, baking powder, baking sods, salt. Using a paddle mix on slow for five minutes.
  • Add raisins, carrots, walnuts, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract mix on slow speed for an additional five minutes.
  • Increase speed to medium for 10 minutes.
  • Pour into loaf pans. Pans should be three-quarters full.
  • Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° and bake for 20 more.

Source: New York Times

Update: GOOD NEWS! The New York Times has published a scaled down version of the recipe more appropriate for home cooks.


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