Category Archives: recipe

Cilantro Vinaigrette

My friend Cassi bought the same small food processor that I did and asked what she should do with it. I love it for salad dressings. This is a simple and very tasty dressing that I found in a book by Matt Martinez Jr, “Mex Tex”. Here’s the recipe as it is written in the book. I cut it in half because there are only two of us at my house.

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro (loosely packed)
1 tablespoon crushed and chopped garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whirl it in the food processor or a blender for 30 seconds. Pour into a jar and chill.

My half measure of the ingredients above makes about this much. The full measure makes 1 1/2 cups, according to the recipe. 1 1/2 cups is more than I need.

Of course, if you don’t like cilantro this won’t be for you. But, if you do, you’ll be amazed at how delicious it is! Today’s salad is fresh greens from my neighbor’s garden, radish, heirloom tomato and green onion. A few slices of cantaloupe and we’re good to go with some grilled chicken.

Lamb Stew Ciuba

I grabbed this recipe off Epicurious.com.  Love that site!  I had to change up the recipe a little.  But, it turned out to be super easy.

2 lbs lamb stew meat
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour.  Toss to combine.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven and brown the meat in two batches over medium-high heat.  Put in a bowl and set aside.

Add some more oil to the pot.  Turn it down to medium and saute:

1 large chopped onion
2 large chopped ribs of celery
6 cloves chopped garlic
4 medium carrots cut about 1/3 inch thick

Add:

1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
(I also added a few shakes of red pepper flakes and a teaspoon of Aleppo chili pepper)

Saute for a minute and add:

The browned lamb
1 and 1/2 cups red wine
3 cups of beef broth

Crank up the heat to get it simmering.  Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring now and then, partially covered, for 2 1/2 hours until the sauce is thick and the lamb is tender.

After the cooking time was done I thought the stew was too watery.  So, I added some Yukon gold potatoes and cooked it another hour.

This is good stuff.  But, I bet it’ll be even better tomorrow…

 

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Cream

What is in a name?  A lot, when it comes to this soup.  In fact, the name sounded better than the soup tasted.  But, what was I expecting?  It’s squash soup.  Squash isn’t just bursting with flavor to begin with, right?

I cracked open the squash.  Since I’d never cooked a butternut squash before, more less a six dollar organic butternut squash, I took a little nibble of it raw.  Nothing.  I tossed a piece to the floor to see if the dog would eat it.  No dice.  It tasted like nice, fresh, organic nothing.  Maybe the roasting would help.

I will say that it smelled considerably better after the roasting.  I had rubbed the cut side of each half with olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted it for 45 mintues at 400.  Still didn’t taste like a whole lot.

I medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped

Saute in a soup pot with olive oil and a little salt until tender.  Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for a minute or two more.  Scoop the squash flesh into the pot.  Add four cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so.

From here you take it off the heat.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, thinning it with up to 2 cups more chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Taste.  That’s kind of the problem here.  The most potent flavor in almost six cups of soup was 2 cloves of garlic.  That’s not a lot of flavor.

All of this is supposed to be pumped up by two teaspoons of chipotle chopped.  I used chipotle puree and put a lot more than two teaspoons.  It didn’t taste like much.  I added a Mexican spice blend that’s heavy on the cumin.  A little more garlic.  Salt.

It was OK.   The addition of the blob of sour cream with chipotle mixed in was nice.  It was still and exercise in blandness.  If you like bland or if you feel that you can jazz this up sufficiently to make it really good, then do make this soup.  It’s got to be pretty good for you, right?  It’s basically nothing but vegetables.  But, frankly, V8 has more flavor.

Thankful Pizza

How do you go from this…

To this…?

Thankgiving.  We brined and smoked our turkey.  And last night it was delicious on a turkey pizza.  Started with an olive oil and garlic base with a little crushed red pepper.  Topped it with hunks of smoked turkey, little blobs of stuffing, spoonfuls of truffled mashed potatoes and some green been casserole scattered around.  (Yes, with the crunchy fried onions from a can!)  When it came out of the oven we drizzled it with giblet gravy and added a little bit of cranberry sauce here and there.

Thanksgiving by the slice.  Not too bad!

Baked Ziti with Sausage

First you cook the sausage…

This is spicy Parmesan Italian sausage from Hirsch’s Meats.  Very tasty.  Spoon it out of the pan and saute onions, carrot and celery.

Start the sauce… includes ground beef, tomato sauce, wine, pureed tomatoes and salt & pepper.

Cook for about an hour and then add the sausage back into the sauce along with chopped parsley.

Mix ziti with the meat sauce.

Butter a large casserole and add half the pasta mixture.

Add half the bechamel sauce that I forgot to mention you’ve already made.

Add the rest of the pasta mixture.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Bake.

Scoop out the goodness and eat.

Later, wash all the dishes!

New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp

We went to S&D Oyster Company today and I almost got the BBQ shrimp.  Then I remembered… I have a recipe for the best BBQ shrimp I’ve ever eaten.  Once again, the Saveur book “The New Comfort Food” is a winner.  This is a fabulously spicy dish that would be good as an appetizer or main course.  The sauce is plentiful.  Though I’m going to pass on the recipe with their ingredient amounts, I’d say you could throw in more shrimp.  I used big shrimp, more than 16 of them, and they were swimming in sauce.

BBQ shrimp doesn’t include outdoor cooking or a grill at all.  Here’s how it goes…

 16 peeled & deveined shrimp, tails left on
2 Tbsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning mix
1/4 canola oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I used 6)
2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup beer
6 Tbsp hot sauce (I used Tobasco, Louisian Hot Sauce and  Tapatio)
6 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
12 Tbsp cold butter cut into small pieces
1 loaf crusty French bread for serving

1. Toss the shrimp with the Creole seasoning and set aside.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and then garlic.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add rosemary and cook 2-3 seconds.  Add shrimp and cook, flipping once, until they turn pink, about 30 seconds.  They will not be fully cooked at this point.  Transfer shrimp to a warm plate and set aside.

3.  Add beer, hot sauce, Worcestershire and lemon juice and cook, stirring, until thickened, 7-8 minutes.

4.  Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time.  When they melt into the sauce, add more butter pieces, stirring all the time.  The sauce will start to thicken.

5.  Return the shrimp to the skillet and toss to coat.  Return skillet to medium heat and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. 

6.  Transfer the shimp and sauce onto deep plates or shallow bowls.  Serve with  crusty bread.

The Best Chicken Wings We Ever Made

Hub’s a frying genius.  So, I found this new cookbook.  “SAVEUR The New Comfort Food – Home Cooking from Around the World”.  I love the magazine.  I was excited to see that they had published a new book. 

The recipes have been good, sometimes a little too boring for my taste.  But, who says you can’t spice it up a little or throw in some cheese?  And I must remind myself that a lot of people don’t want spicy when they want comfort.  Subtle flavors are good, too. 

Anyway, Hubbard is a frying genius.  He’s really got it down.  So, I suggested he make the Sweet-and-Spicy Korean Fried Chicken.  This recipe is made with chicken wings.  I love wings.  The technique is different, though.  You make a batter of water, flour and corn starch.  Toss the wings in the batter then fry.  Drain on paper towels.  Here’s what they looked like…

Could they be more golden and crispy?  They’re so perfect.  So, while they sit there doing nothing, you make the sauce.  Throw five or six ingredients in a small food processor or blender and you’re done with that.  Now, or whenever you feel like it, you fry the wings again.  Let them drain a while and then toss them with the sauce.  Of course, I was so eager to take a bite I forgot to take a picture.  Here’s the picture from the book…

Though I didn’t grab my camera, this was one of those cookbook moments.  What he had made actually looked better than the picture in the book.  And it tasted fabulous!  It was the texture that really made it.  That double frying and the corn starch produces then most lovely crunch.  Even covered with sauce these guys stayed crunchy.  So moist and perfectly cooked inside, too.

Forget the Ranch dressing for these wings.  I did think that if we made a teriyaki sauce to toss them in, that might be tasty.  Or maybe a lemon pepper sauce.  Or maybe…

Hubbard took a bite and said, “This recipe is worth the cost of the book”. 

I think he’s right.