Sunday, January 27, 2013

Black Bean Ragout

This is my lightly adapted version of a recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. What’s great about this recipe is that you can use the beans for any meal of the day. That, and it’s dead simple to make. The chilis, cumin and oregano give these beans a great depth of flavor with a definite nod to Mexican cuisine.

Note that you do not have to soak the beans beforehand, but you can if you want to (it should knock some of the cooking time off. Also, according to a slow-cooker cookbook I have, if you presoak the beans before cooking them in a crockpot, you get more consistent cooking times.  I haven’t tried testing this out to see if it’s true).

For the beans:
1 lb. dried black beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 guajillo chili
1 dried chipotle chili
9 cups water, divided
Lime juice

In a dry skillet over medium heat, heat the chilis for about 30 seconds per side, until they are fragrant. Remove the seeds from both and the stem from the guajillo, and break into pieces. Place in a blender along with 1 cup of water and puree. Add the puree to your slow cooker.

Rinse the beans and add to the slow cooker, along with all the other ingredients beside the lime juice. Cook for 3 to 6 hours on high, until tender. Mine took 4 hours to get to the correct amount of tenderness. Stir in the lime juice when the beans are finished cooking.

For the pickled shallots:
2 shallots, chopped
2 tbsp lime juice

Mix the lime juice, shallots and salt in a small bowl for 15 minutes.

To finish:
Rustic Bread
Garlic Clove
Olive Oil

Brush a piece of bread with olive oil and rub with a garlic clove. Toast the bread as you see fit.

Meanwhile, poach the egg: heat some water in a medium sauce pot, along with a splash of vinegar. Heat to a simmer, just before the water boils. Create a whirlpool with the water. Crack your egg into a small dish/ramekin, and slide the egg into the middle of the whirlpool. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.

Spoon the beans on your toast, top with the egg, pickled shallots, and cilantro.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Heavy Metal Dinner Medley

This week’s 52 Weeks of Cooking theme was Inspired by Music, so I present you with a heavy metal themed meal:

Thyme Does Not Veal:
Pan Roasted Veal Chops Stuffed with Mushrooms, Spinach, Serrano Ham and Thyme, Topped with a Lemon Thyme Compound Butter

A Vulgar Display of Potatoes:
Duck fat Roasted Potatoes with Thyme, Bacon, and Melted Onions

Rust in Peas:
 Green Peas with Sun-dried tomato pesto

My original idea was to have an all thrash metal inspired dinner, but I couldn’t think of a thrash metal album I could shoehorn into a potato dish, so I went with Pantera instead. Once again I wish I had a grill, if only so I could’ve done the blatantly obvious “Grill ‘Em All” (or if you prefer, “Grilling is my business (and Business is Good)”.

A few cooking notes: For the potatoes, try to use russets if you can. I ended up using some Yukon golds I had, and they had a tendency to stick to the pan, and a few got mushy and crushed with I tried to remove them. Never had that problem with russets, which I assume is due to their starchy-ness.

The compound butter recipe comes from Ruhlman’s Twenty, and the melted onions are from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home.

Thyme Does Not Veal: Pan Roasted Veal Chops Stuffed with Mushrooms, Spinach, Serrano Ham and Thyme, Topped with a Lemon Thyme Compound Butter – Inspired by Dark Angel’s “Time Does Not Heal”

Stuffing (enough for 2 chops):
4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
1.5 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (about 5 whole mushrooms)
1 large garlic clove
2 slices prosciutto/Serrano ham
¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
Zest of ¼ lemon

In a dry pan, place the breadcrumbs and heat over medium for about 1 minute, until they start to get some color on them. Remove to a bowl. Splash a little olive oil in the pan, then add the mushrooms and cook until most of their water is released and they start to color, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach leaves, turn off the heat, and stir them around until they wilt.

Add the mushrooms, garlic, and spinach to the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Add the Serrano ham, thyme, and lemon zest and stir to combine. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Compound butter:
½ cup/8 oz./1 stick butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons shallots
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

In a bowl, work all the ingredients together with your hands. Form the butter into a log shaped, then place on a piece of plastic wrap. Roll the butter in the plastic wrap to form a circular log shape, and refrigerate until firm.

Cooking the Veal Chops:
Cut a pocket into 2 one-inch thick veal chops, and insert half the stuffing into each cavity. Allow the chops to sit on the counter for about an hour to come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350°F, and set an oven safe pan over high heat. Season the chops generously with salt and pepper, and pour some canola oil over the chops themselves. Brown the chops in the pan for 2 minutes per side, then transfer to your oven for about 4 to 5 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 130°F. Remove from the oven and let the chops rest for 5 minutes. Serve with a piece of compound butter on top.

A Vulgar Display of Potatoes – Duck fat Roasted Potatoes with Thyme, Bacon, and Melted Onions, inspired by Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power”

Melted Onions:
2 white onions, diced
6 tbsp butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 sprigs thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 bay leaves
Parchment paper for a cartouche
Cheesecloth (optional)

In a large pan, cook the onions over medium low heat (don’t add butter/oil to the pan yet, but do sprinkle some salt on them) until they release all of their liquid, about 20 minutes. Keep the heat pretty low so the onions don’t brown.

Place the thyme, garlic, and bay leaves in a piece of cheesecloth, and tie off with butchers twine to create a sachet. Alternatively, you can just place the 3 ingredients directly on the onions, and fish them out when you’re done cooking.

Place the butter and sachet on the onions, and cover with a parchment paper lid, aka a cartouche. If you’ve never made a parchment lid before, it’s probably easies to head over to youtube for an explanation, courtesy of Michael Ruhlman:

Let the onions cook, still over medium low heat, for another 30 to 35 minutes, until meltingly tender. If the butter separates or the pan looks dry, add a bit of cold water and stir to emulsify.

Remove the sachet/garlic, thyme, and bay, and place the onions in a bowl. These can be made ahead of time, and you’ll have plenty of leftovers which you can use to top pretty much any meat.

Roasted Potatoes
2 russet potatoes
1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped
Salt (generous amount – like a tablespoon or thereabouts)
Black Pepper
1 tbsp duck fat
2 slices bacon

Dice the potatoes (skin on or off, whatever your preference), and place in a bowl with the thyme, salt, and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes.  Add the duck fat, and toss to coat. Place in an 8x8 baking dish, and roast at 425°F for 45 minutes, flipping the potatoes over after about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 2 slices of bacon in a pan until crispy, and remove to a paper towel. Cut into small pieces and reserve.

When the potatoes are done, remove from the oven, and place in a serving bowl along with the bacon and melted onions.

Rust In Peas – Green Peas with Sun-dried tomato pesto, inspired by Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace”

Frozed Green Peas (however many you want to serve)
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup olive oil (I used some of the oil the tomatoes were packed in, and some extra virgin olive oil to make up the difference)
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil (use fresh if you have it)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

In a small food processor, add the tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, parmesan, basil, and red pepper flakes, and turn on the food processor. Pour in the oil, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made in advance and refrigerated.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the peas for about 3 minutes, until cooked through but still with a little bite to them. Drain, and place back in the pan. Add pesto as needed and serve.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

KFC: Korean Fried Chicken

Korean is not a cuisine I’m familiar with, so I decided to go with a Korean take on something familiar: fried chicken. The ingredient that makes all the difference is gochujang, an aromatic chili paste made from red chili, rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It’s moderately spicy, with an aroma that reminded me of a mix of soy and stewed plums. The honey adds a good bit of sweetness to the sauce, which it’s worth noting is quite sticky, so grab some extra napkins before you dig in. Recipe from:

4 cloves garlic
1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 tbsp gochujang
3 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp honey

16 chicken wings
2/3 cup flour
1 tbsp. corn starch
2/3 cup water
Canola oil for frying

For the sauce:
Chop the garlic and ginger in a food processor, add the remaining ingredients and pureƩ. Pour the sauce into a large bowl and set aside.

For the chicken:
Pour canola oil into a pot or dutch oven to a depth of 2 inches. Heat to 350°F. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the flour and corn starch. Add the water and whisk. Add chicken wings to coat, then fry the wings in two batches. Fry for 6 to 8 minutes until golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to sop up excess oil. Repeat with the second batch of wings. Return the first batch to the oil (make sure it comes back up to 350°F between batches), and fry for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until crispy.

After the frying, before the sauce

When all of the wings have been twice fried, toss them in the sauce to coat and serve.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is the first time I’ve ever made ice cream, and since I don’t own an ice cream maker I figured the Food Lab method was the way to go (recipe: I modified the recipe slightly to incorporate mint and chocolate chips. I’m not sure why, but my end result was very creamy and not very icy. It started to melt almost immediately, and I’m not entirely sure where I went wrong. On the plus side, the flavor was spot on, with the mint offering a nice fresh taste without being overwhelming. The chocolate chip cookie recipe is my favorite standby, the one right off the back of a package of Hershey’s chocolate chips.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:
12 oz. Evaporated Milk
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Green food coloring
2 cups heavy cream (divided)
3.5 oz chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli 72% cacao)

Rinse the mint leaves, dry them off, then place in a pot with the evaporated milk. Heat over medium until the liquid simmers (don’t put the heat too high, or the milk will scorch), then remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes.

While the evaporated milk is infusing, fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Separate your egg yolks, and add to the bowl of the mixer along with the sugar, vanilla, salt, and 5 drops of green food coloring. Whisk over medium for 4 minutes, until:
A)   The mixture coats the back of a spoon
B)   You can run your finger through that coating without it running together

Set the egg mixture aside. Strain the evaporated milk mixture, and add the milk, sans mint leaves, back to your saucepan. Heat over medium until it returns to a simmer. Slowly add the simmering milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until incorporated. Don’t add the milk too fast, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture hits 180°F. Again, heat slowly so it doesn’t scorch, whisk constantly and don’t let it get too hot or you’ll have scrambled eggs. Chill the mixture completely.

Beat 1 cup heavy cream until doubled in volume. Fold into the egg mixture until incorporated. Pour the mixture into 2 ice cube trays, and freeze for at least 4 hours.

In a food processor, add the ice cream mixture and the remaining cup of cream. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Fold in the chopped chocolate, and place the mixture in a 1 quart container, freezing for at least 4 hours before serving.

Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup/8 oz/2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (one 12 oz. package) chocolate chips

Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. In another bowl, or a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together for 3 minutes, until creamy. Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes more. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well to incorporate. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prep your baking sheets, and drop the cookie mixture onto the sheets, 1 to 2 tablespoons for each cookie depending on how large you want them. Make sure the cookies aren’t too close together, especially if you’re making larger cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on the sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool.