Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27 -- Oven Chicken Chimichangas

Back in la cocina today for a Mexican favorite. I wasn't sure what I'd be making until after midnight. I looked around and found this recipe for oven baked chimichangas.The only mistake I made this time around was using a metal spatula to flip the chimis. The metal and my forky spatula went right through the tortillas. Use a spoon if you choose to flip. After the five minute flip, I skipped the 10 minute flip. They still came out nice.

Using the salsa to cook was a fine idea but I didn't have enough so I subbed in 6 ounces of diced tomatoes. I topped the chimis with guacamole in a packet. I like to take the corner off and use it like I'm piping icing.

My recipe, although it said 'serves six' I made five, pretty much what the casserole could fit. I had two for dinner and I am very full. That leaves three for lunches or dinner this week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Kabobs

A quick, summertime (even though the winds scream winter isn't dead yet), dinner are kabobs. They meet my requirements of meat, vegetables, and eating food off a stick. Two of those things I enjoy, one I tolerate.

I made a Memphis-style dry rub more for ribs but I put it on the raw chicken after it was diced.

Here are the spices for the rub:
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons salt or adobo
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
 That makes a lot of rub. You can set it aside and use it on ribs or steak.

Chop your peppers into pieces about the same size as the grape tomatoes and skewer them. Two chicken breasts, a large pepper, and half a pound of grape tomatoes made 6 kabobs. Cook on the Foreman style grill for 12 minutes. It was 30 minutes from slicing into the chicken to eating dinner.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lent is Tough -- Sour Cream Sauce on Salmon

"Lent is tough on carnivores," says one of my co-workers. I countered with, "not as tough as hanging on a cross for 3 hours."

So tonight as you dig into your salmon fillet and French cut green beans, kick it up with a simple sauce that blends creamy and tart.

In a frying pan, melt one tablespoon of butter. After it is melted somewhat, add two tablespoons of sour cream. Melt it down, add a pinch of dill, and pour over your salmon and green beans.

From earlier this week, I did an "everything in the spice rack" dry rub on some pork ribs. I put a little of everything, crushed pepper, cumin, cajun seasoning, paprika, and basil in a bag and threw the boneless ribs in a ziploc bag and coated them. Ten minutes on the Foreman grill and they were done. They were even better the next day when the spices had a chance to get into the meat.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13 -- Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo, rice with chicken, is the quintessential Caribbean dish. Cheap ingredients and filling, it is a staple for many of the students where I work but make it myself? That would mean going into the Goya aisle at the market.

I made a lot of mistakes today but the dish still came out terrific, if not a bit salty. I think the rice (Goya brand arroz amarillo) was already seasoned with sazon and then I added a package of sazon with saffron adding to the sazon. Plus it called for the chicken to come off the heat when you cook down the rice and the peppers then coat the rice. I left the chicken in the pot but it was still amazingly, don't-need-a-knife, tender. I cut down on the chicken because I didn't have 3 1/2 pounds on hand and I'd be eating the stuff forever if I did.

Yield was dinner for me plus two lunches or dinners for the week.

I used this recipe minus the pimentos, peas, and alcaparrado. This is totally tasty and there is no heat that us gringos fear with anything that comes from south of Oklahoma.

April 6 -- Shrimp Creole

I've been to New Orleans twice and it's a stop when I do my summer eating tour. I tell everyone to try Mother's Restaurant, the Ferdi with ham, roast beef, and "debris". The Ferdi was my first meal on my last visit, lunch after the flight. It may be my favorite sandwich in America, up there with Tony Luke's Roast Pork and Mother's shrimp po' boy (a pound of shrimp on a roll)! I will keep thinking great sandwiches and miss the point -- shrimp creole.

We were talking at lunch about stuff we haven't had in a while and Ginger, my co-worker, said she hadn't had shrimp creole in a long time. I hadn't had shrimp creole ever but I was willing to try. I told her I was doing lunch on Monday. She asked if she'd have to make the rice. I even provided the rice.

It was my first time making the Cajun trinity, onion, pepper, and celery sauteed in butter until soft. With the garlic powder it made the most amazing smell that lingered in my small one bedroom apartment into Tuesday morning. After the trinity is soft, add two cans of tomatoes, I used a large can of diced and a smaller can of crushed tomatoes. After throwing that into the pot, I added two bags of shrimp, 1 pound of cooked, frozen jumbo and 3/4 pound of cooked, medium from Aldi. Aldi's tagline should be "good shrimp, cheap."

The creole had to be made weak since Ginger doesn't like spice. I had to mark our bowls for lunch. Hers blank and mine "kicked up" with cayenne and Crystal hot sauce. Either way, it was wonderful and Lent safe. Nobody said depriving yourself of meat has to be a punishment.

This recipe was easier than I thought. Here's Emeril's recipe.

Midweek in March -- The Cuban

So I cheated on this one, I can get it here. I had my first Cuban pork sandwich last year at Nationals Stadium in Washington. They have a shop that sells different signature dishes from around the league, the Philly Cheesesteak, Milwaukee Bratwurst, and the like. For Miami they had the Cuban, I was in love. For a local Cuban, try Monty's in Southampton.

I used Dattilo's up the corner for most of my ingredients. They have roast pork (1/2 pound) and roast ham (1/2 pound) done on site. They also have the imported Swiss, the rolls, and pickles in a barrel. I think they even have yellow mustard.

Slice your rolls and layer pork, Swiss, ham, thinly sliced pickle longways, and a little mustard. Grill it like a grilled cheese then lay a hot pan on top of the sandwich and press it so it's 1/3 of the size of when you started. Let the bread get a little brown and crispy. This made enough for two full sandwiches and one went to work. It was fine cold for lunch the next day.

March 23 -- Cottage Pie

A classic comfort food of my youth is American shepherd's pie. In the rest of the English speaking world, it's cottage pie. I made it easy, Bob Evans mashed potatoes on top. I am not mashing potatoes. I know it's not the same as Mom used to make but Mom doesn't live close enough to make me a pile of cottage pie.

One large casserole made plenty, dinner for two nights and three containers for dinner later.

Here is the recipe but I cheated on the potatoes:

In the beginning...

So about a month ago I started really cooking. Over the past 8 years, I've learned to cook things. I can make a pretty mean no-bake noodle lasagna or tuna casserole but this new weekly cooking would take me out of my comfort zone into flavors I've never had and ingredients never used.

The inspiration is my grandfather, now long deceased. He was a house husband because he got sick when he was 28 and was unable to work. He cooked and did chores while my grandmother worked at a sugar factory. As a kid, it was Saturday afternoon dinners that he'd cook. I don't know what his secrets were. I don't know if he cooked from scratch but the man could cook the lights out, chicken soup with dumplings, British style sweet sausage and mashed potatoes, stuffed skirt steak (kind of like braciola but looser), halupki, were all on the menu at one time or another.

My goal is one new dish a week, usually cooked on Sunday when the laundry is being done. The only rules are I have to like it, I am not cooking for show, and I can't get it here at one of my regular restaurants.

Tonight I'll deal with a few things I've made recently then hopefully move on to a more regular mostly-once-a-week schedule.