Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Perfect Late Summer Evening

Okay, I know it's still around 100 degrees during the day, but it's actually getting to be bearable after the sun goes over the other side of San Jacinto Mountain. It's also getting to be near that time of year when I crave heartier dishes that seem to pair well with the season's fruits. So we bought a pork loin roast at Costco and I decided to brine it and roast it on the Weber rotisserie. This is a combination of a few recipes I've had sitting around, and here's how I did it:

Brined Spit-Roasted Pork Loin with Orange Marmalade

Brine Mixture

1 quart apple juice
5 quarts water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 large springs fresh thyme
4 bay leaves, crushed


4 pound pork loin roast, tied

Combine brine ingredients in a large pot. Submerge pork loin; refrigerate for 4 hours. Remove, but do not rinse. Pat dry and allow to come to room temperature.

Set roast on rotisserie rod securely. Season well with freshly ground black pepper. Rotisserie roast with cover closed. Heat should be around 325 - 350 degrees. Start glazing about halfway through cook time. Remove and allow to rest when internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees. Total cook time is approxiamte, but estimate about 1 1/2 hours, at least.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.

Saute 3/4 cup sliced shallots in olive oil until they start to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary. After a few minutes, add 1/2 cup orange marmalade. Combine well and remove from heat.
I served this with a homemade savory applesauce, potatoes dauphinoise, and ended the meal with roasted pears with brown sugar and vanilla ice cream (Everyday Italian recipe).
All of this on the patio with good friends, cooling temperatures and lots of good wine made for a really nice evening.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Brined Rotisserie Chicken

Last week while at Costco, our eyes were bigger than what we could actually accomplish in a week's time; consequently, we ended up buying WAY too much meat: one five-pound boneless pork loin, a package of two pork tenderloins, package of three whole chickens, package of two large chuck roasts. Pheww, I don't think I've fogotten anything. Later this week, I'll type out the recipes for what I did with one of the chickens, the pork loin and one of the chuck steaks. The tenderloins are vac-packed, so I don't feel under the gun to get them cooked right away.

But the remaining two chickens were staring at me every time I opened up the large fridge out in the garage, and time was awasting. I've brined lots of whole chickens before, and this is the brine I like best. A single recipe would be 1/4 of all the ingredients, which is the way it was originally was written, but even doulbing the ingredients is not enough to cover the birds, so I quadrupled it and that was perfect. Here's the brine and the amounts I used. One-fourth would be fine for cut up parts, and brine time should be reduced to about an hour or so.

BRINE

1 quart apple juice
3 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt
8 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped (save bean for your sugar jar)

Brined for 3 hours, then rotisseried.

There were some fresh herbs sitting around, so I made a mixture of parsley, thyme and rosemary from the yard and added lots of coarsely ground black pepper. To bind it, I added EVOO and spread it all over the birds, inside and out. After trussing the legs, I set up both chickens on one rotisserie rod; I just happen to have an extra sets of forks, so doing two is no problem. I set the Weber on M-O-M (medium-off-medium) and let it come up to temperature. I felt this was a bit too hot, about 370 degrees, so I lowered it to medium low on the front and back burner and left the middle one off. The birds reached a perfect 160 degrees after about an hour and fifteen minutes. After letting them rest a while, they were perfect and fantastically juicy.

Nothing better, and we have dinner for two nights. The carcasses I'll save and use to make a rich dark chicken stock for soup or risotto. How frugal is that?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pandora

Thank you, David Lebovitz, for mentioning Pandora in your latest blog entry. I did not even know it existed until tonight. My newest obsession!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sweatin' to the Curry

Not too long ago, while checking out some new sites, I came across the Global Gourmet site. The archives hold a lot of cookbook reviews, with a few recipes thrown in for you to try. If you like trying global cuisine, and dishes you don't normally make, check out this site.

This recipe for Red Curry Beef with Potatoes comes from The Simpler the Better; Sensational One-Dish Meals by Leslie Revsin with Rick Rodgers. If nothing else, the cover photo of risotto with shrimp is enough to at least check the book out.

This was truly a one-pot dinner, although not quick cooking; known to be a tough cut of meat, chuck needs a good amount of time braising to become meltingly tender. I opted to throw in with the browning onions a sliced-up green bell pepper and a couple of sliced garlic cloves. The finished dish was quite spicy and had a moderate amount of heat, although very manageable when served with a dollop of sour cream or, as I had on hand, yogurt cheese (drained and thickened low-fat yogurt).

This makes four good-size servings and could probably be made and frozen for a desperation dinner down the road. I'm not sure: how do dishes made with coconut milk freeze? Having been on a low-carb kick the past couple of months, making a dish with potatoes was a real treat, and I didn't feel guilty as each serving had probably less than one red potato in it. A glass of New Zealand Marlborough district saugignon blanc paired well with the dish. The stew had lime and citrus flavor, and the wine had distinct grapefruit overtones. A better match, I feel, would have been a dry riesling.

The heat and spiciness in the recipe come from the three tablespoons of red curry paste. Once again, Palm Springs proves itself to be a culinary backwater town; I had to go to three supermarkets to find curry paste. The recipe called for three, but next time I think I'll tone it down by starting with only two and go from there. In this case the advice we've all heard rings true: you can always add more, but once in there, you can't take it out. One other thing: I used fish sauce, which I had in the cupboard, because it gives the dish that authentic Thai flavor.









Here's a copy of the recipe from The Global Gourment.

Red Curry Beef with Potatoes
4 servings

Here's another recipe that uses red curry paste, one of my favorite ingredients. In fact, it is probably the most famous use for red curry paste—a luxuriously spiced beef stew with chunks of potatoes.

2 large onions
1-1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, peeled
2 limes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons red curry paste
Two 13-1/2-ounce cans coconut milk (do not shake cans)
3 tablespoons soy sauce or fish sauce

Prep

Cut onions into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Grate zest from limes. Juice limes; you should have 2 to 3 tablespoons.

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven or flameproof covered casserole over medium-high heat. In batches without crowding, add beef and cook, turning occasionally, until beef is browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer beef to plate.

2. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in pot. Add onions and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add curry paste and 2 tablespoons thick coconut "cream" (the thick liquid that has risen to the top of the canned coconut milk). Mix well and cook for 30 seconds. Return beef and any juices on plate to pot. Whisk coconut milk in cans to combine milk and remaining "cream" and pour into pot, along with soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 50 minutes.

3. Add potatoes to pot and cover. Cook until both beef and potatoes are tender, about 35 minutes. Add lime zest and juice. Serve hot.

Simple tip

Don't confuse coconut milk with cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez). The former is unsweetened, while the latter is used only for making piƱa coladas and some desserts. However, the thick, rich paste that rises to the top of canned coconut milk during storage is similarly called "coconut cream." The question is what to buy? The answer is coconut milk.

Variation

Add 1 green bell pepper (seeds and ribs discarded, pepper cut into 2-inch long strips about 1/2 inch wide) and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves to the pot with the onion.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Spanish Baked Chicken

I recently posted a few recipes I'd be making in the near future, and Elise's Spanish Baked Chicken was first on the list. After cutting up a whole chicken, I let it marinate a day in the raisin, olive and vinaigrette mixture.

Last night I added a handful of extra garlic cloves, some white wine, a sprinkling of brown sugar, and popped the dish into the oven for about an hour, just until the skin was nicely browned and the sauce was slightly reduced and fragrant.

On the side I made pan-steamed broccoli. Separate the broccoli into florets. Heat over medium-high heat a film of olive oil. When shimmering, briefly saute a sliced garlic clove and then add the florets and stir fry a minute or so until starting to brown. Toss in a quarter cup or so of water, cover and let it steam until it's bright green and crisp tender. Finish with a pat of butter, salt and pepper.

Here's the recipe, slightly adapted. Thank you, Elise. This is a winner.

Spanish Baked Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of pepper
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sliced pitted green olives
3 pounds chicken parts
handful of extra garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine

1 In a medium bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, garlic powder, pepper, bay leaves, raisins and olives. Prick the skin of the chicken with fork tines and add to the marinade, coating well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken in a 12x8x2-inch baking dish. Combine wine with the marinade and pour over chicken. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar. Scatter the handful of garlic. Bake uncovered at 350°F, basting occasionally, until chicken is tender, about 50 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dangerous Candidate


I don't live in Florida, and I don't usually get political, especially on my food-oriented blog, but this woman is just unbelievable. Can we say ignorant and bigoted?

Floridians? Wake up!

Enough said.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Favorite Kitchen Gadget


Posie's Place is hosting a Favourite Kitchen Gadget event. I've managed over the years to curb my gadget mania (the drawers won't hold any more stuff) because I have everything I could possibly use or need. That said, it is truly difficult to chose a favorite item, but one thing I could not do without is my bench scraper, which I've had for at least 20 years. Besides this metal scraper, I have about six more, all of which are white flexible plastic, and these too are indispensible.

This is what Wikipedia has to say:

A bench scraper is a tool used by bakers to manipulate dough and to clean surfaces on which dough has been worked. It is generally a small sheet of stainless steel (approximately 3"x5" or 8 cm x 13 cm) with a handle of wood or plastic along one of the long sides. A baker uses this tool to help pick up, turn, and portion dough. When finished, the bench scraper can be used to scrape up the little bits of dough that have dried onto the kneading surface during the forming process. This tool is alternatively refferd to as a "dough cutter," "dough knife," "pastry cutter," and "pastry knife."

In addition to its intended use with dough, it's an excellent picker-upper. This is its main use in our kitchen, moving a good amount of chopped meat or vegetables from the chopping block to the stovetop. I have to admit occasionally a morsel will fall to the floor, and when the dogs were alive, they'd get a well-deserved treat. Since then, though, I've noticed a lot more crumbs, etc., on the floor, which needs cleaning a lot more often.

Also on the list would have to be at the dozen or so different sizes of heat-resistant spatulas, mostly coming from Cost Plus. I tend to use these nowadays even more than wooden spoons; they're great for stirring around the "corners" of a saucepan or scrambling eggs.

In the past few years, I've renewed a relationship with the good old blender. Smoothies, pureed soups, pureeing simmered chiles for Mexican sauces, and cold soups for our desert hot weather are all good uses.

Thinking for a moment on some of the other most often used gizmos in our kitchen, I'd say the garlic press, toast tongs and lemon and lime presses are all used a lot.

I can't wait to see what everyone else submits as their favorites.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Podcasting: KCRW's Good Food


It seems like every Saturday when I'm out doing errands, and KCRW's Good Food is on, I reach my destination before the show's over. And I just hate that! It's such a good show. Now I've discovered Good Food can be downloaded as a Podcast from iTunes for free. Not owning an iPod, I just listen to it on the computer. What a find; so interesting and informative. Check it out, along with all the food-related podcast programs available from iTunes. I swore I'd never get an iPod, but now.... ?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Onion, New News Source

Bush Urges Nation To Be Quiet For A Minute While He Tries To Think

Check out this important article from The Onion. Articles from the site can be sent to your blog or saved for podcast later. There are some funny articles, so check it out.

Also, check out some of the podcast-able cooking talk shows accessible from iTunes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A Few Things I Intend to Make Sometime Soon

I've copied and saved for future cooking sessions a couple of really great recipes from the blog Simply Recipes. The first is Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. Elise used a base of whole chopped apples and jalapenos to yield juice to which sugar is added. The pectin from the whole apples is enough to jel the mixture, so commercial pectin is not needed.

I've been a fan of hot pepper jellies for years and use it on a variety of foods. If you can find it, it's especially tasty on top of a neutral cracker topped with a horseradish-type cheese. I prefer it instead of cranberry sauce on my turkey sandwich. And for breakfast on buttered toast, fantastic.

Okay. Moving on to another of Elise's entries. Summer Pea Soup is just what I like to make when it's hot and all you need is a quick cook and the blender. I can definitely see this one being made for company.

Finally, there is Spanish Baked Chicken. I love Spanish cuisine, and this has many of the ingredients I look for. It looks like a simple dish to prep, and the payoff has to be out of this world. My mouth is dripping just thinking about this one.

Thank you, Elise!