Friday, June 16, 2006

Posole Rojo

I mentioned in a post last week a stock I made from bags of bones and trimmings from the freezer. I thought it would be a nice base for a posole, also known as pork and hominy stew. Here's the recipe I made up, combining bits from several that were on my to-make list. It came out very tasty, especially after sitting in the fridge for a day. It's a great dish for company because it's make-ahead, all you have to do on the day of serving is cut up the accompaniments and heat up the stew. Warmed flour tortillas with soft butter are another thing to serve on the side. The beverage of choice is usually a cold Mexican beer with lime wedges, but anything cold works well.
Pork, Beef and Hominy Stew with Red Chiles

(Posole Rojo)

Day 1 Make Stock

Chicken backs, wings and whatever is sitting around in the freezer
Frozen corn cobs
Frozen tomato trimmings
Bay leaves
Dry thyme
Parsley stems

Cover chicken bones with cold water by several inches. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Skim off impurities. Add other ingredients and adjust heat for slow simmer. Simmer at least 2 hours. Strain, cool, chill overnight and then skim off fat layer.

Day 2 Make posole

To stock pot, add 2 pounds country-style pork ribs, 2 pounds beef short ribs (all pork may be used); 1 head garlic, cloves peeled, then sliced; 1 white onion, peeled and quartered; 2 carrots cut into chunks; 2 cloves garlic sliced; 1 teaspoon kosher salt; 10 cups stock and 2 cups cold water.

Bring to a boil, reduce to slow simmer and skim off impurities as they rise to the top. Then add 1 teaspoon oregano, crumbled. Simmer about 2 hours. Remove meat, let cool and then shred using two forks. Set meat aside. Strain stock and discard solids.

Return meat and broth to stock pot. Add chile sauce, 2 30-oz. cans hominy, rinsed and drained, 1 teaspoon salt, about ¼ cup lime juice. Simmer another 30 minutes and taste for seasoning. Add white wine vinegar to taste.

Serve with accompaniments or chill up to 2 days. Freezes well, too.

Chile Sauce:

Remove stems and seed from 2 ozs. Dried New Mexico, ancho or pasilla chiles, or a combination. Flatten and briefly heat in medium skillet. Set them in a bowl and cover with about 2 cups boiling water. Cover and let sit up to an hour.

In blender add chiles and liquid, 14 ½ oz can chopped tomatoes, ½ white onion chopped, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon sugar. Blend well until smooth. In skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add sauce. Simmer until slightly thickened.


Shredded red cabbage
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Diced avocado
Sliced radishes
Lime wedges
Chopped white onion
Sour cream or Mexican crema

Here are some pictures of our 15-year-old, quickly failing Schnauzer, Demetrius, "Demi," who is having sort of a bad day today. Doesn't want to eat, just lays around, and looks pretty wobbling on his legs. His blood work looks a little better and we'll start him on some new meds today. He's lost another 1 lb. 2 oz, which for a small dog is a lot. The vet is very concerned and each time she sees Demi, asks us how his quality of life is, which a very scary question at this point. Each day is different and causes a new set of worries and challenges.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

White Chocolate Ice Cream with Baked Apples

Last week we had delivered our new kitchen scale. Believe me, the last one had really lost it; it wouldn't keep weights consistently, among other troubles, so I threw it out. It lasted at least eleven years, so I guess that's pretty good. The new one is a My Weigh i5000H, 11 pound capacity, weighs in grams and pounds. We do a fair amount of bread and pastry baking, and measuring by weight is definitely the most accurate way to go. Eddie used it yesterday to weigh out white chocolate for a batch of ice cream, and it came out perfect. Yummy! We had it alongside of microwave "baked" apples with caramel sauce, another recipe I tried to avoid stove and oven cooking.

Thanks to Joe and Nick Maglieri for their advice about what kind of scale they use and recommend.

White Chocolate Ice Cream
(From "The Dessert Lover's Cookbook" by Marlene Sorosky)

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped (Eddie used Trader Joe's white choc. chips)
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 cups milk
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the chocolate with 1/2 cup milk in top of double boiler over simmering water. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Whisk yolks and sugar and salt in medium saucepan until blended. Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk and half and half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to leave a path on wooden spoon when you run a finger along it. Remove from heat. Stir in white chocolate and vanilla. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. (May be refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days.)

Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Serve immediately, as soft serve, or freeze up to 1 week.

Baked Apples in Caramel Sauce
(from "The Well -Filled Microwave" by Wise and Hoffman)

1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 large apples, such as Granny Smiths, cored

Spread walnuts on a plate and microwave, uncovered, on High for 3 minutes, or until toasted. When cool, finely chop and set aside.

Place the brown sugar, butter and cream in a dish large enough to hold the apples without touching each other. Microwave on High for 3 minutes or until bubbling. Whisk to mix.

Set apples in the dish and stuff apples with walnuts and spoon some sauce over. Cover the dish and microwave on High for 5 to 6 minutes until apples ae soft all the way through, but still hold their shape.

To serve, spoon some sauce back over the apples.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This and That

It's been H O T for the last week and a half, (would you believe 110 - 112 degrees? On top of that, the humidity is spiking due to monsoonal activity) and I've turned into a lazy slug and don't even want to turn on the stove unless absolutely necessary.

The new fridge arrived on time (see Death of a Refrigerator), but there were a few kinks to work out. One, it wasn't leveled properly. Two, the right-side door didn't open properly. It made a distinct clunking at the halfway point and then would not close on its own, as we've all come to depend on over the years. After two service calls in the first week, I think the problems have been corrected. All that's left is replacement of a piece below the door which got scratched due to a piece missing in the hinge of the door.

Aside from all that, we've been trying to eat leftovers and stuff from the freezer as much as possible. Sunday evening a few guys came over and we grilled top sirloins we had in the freezer. Also I made my favorite gazpacho, a mixed bean and pasta salad, and a fruit salad. Prepping was a bit of a challenge, as we are being rather stingy with the a/c after receiving our last power bill.

We've taken to using the grill and its side burner more, and also we had, unopened in the garage for over a year, a perfectly fine convection oven/toaster which is big enough to hold two quarter sheet pans. Hey, these save turning on the oven and/or stovetop.

In this kind of heat, we just don't have a hearty appetite at dinnertime anyway, so this has worked out really well. I'm keeping my eyes open for things that lend themselves well to outdoor cooking, including the crockpot and electric pressure cooker, both of which can be plugged in outside.

What I have planned:

Last week I made a clean-out-the-freezer stock using lots of chicken backs, wing tips, tomato scraps, corn cobs, and the usual stuff like onion, celery, carrot, bay, thyme and peppercorns. It has a distinct Mexican flavor from the corn cobs, so I am thinking of doing a large batch of pozole for the freezer. Unfortunately, I'll have to do it inside, so I'll just endure for a couple of hours.

Went to see the DaVinci Code two weeks ago, and we really enjoyed it. It followed very closely the book. I'm so glad it's done well, just to prove all the critics wrong. Now we're looking forward to seeing Cars, which comes out today, and also Prairie Home Companion.

On TV most of our favorite shows have gone into reruns, but the new season of BBC America's Footballers Wives began last Sunday, and it just keeps getting better and better. If you get BBC America, check out this show. It's awesome!!!

Having a DVR from Time-Warner has changed our lives; it's just too easy to watch shows now, including my soap, All My Children, which I've watched since its first year of 1970. Any other fans out there? Have you ever watched a show and you can't decide if you love it or hate it, whether it's good or just plain unbelievably stupid? If you watch AMC, you know what I mean, but it's like a bad habit you can't break. At this point, I can't just drop it.

Right now I'm reading The Rule of Four, and then I'll get back to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I'm on the third one and they are all easy and fun reads.

Tonight for dinner we both want something grilled and a simple potato salad, so that shouldn't be too much effort to expend in the heat, although today it's ONLY going to be a cool 102 degrees, so we are happy about that.

Our new nextdoor neighbors Fred and Gonzalo are coming by Sunday night for a light dinner, maybe burgers, etc. just to give them a break after moving into their new house.

That's all for now. More later.