Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Beef Stew

I have skipped ahead several cookbooks to Cooking with Wine for today's entry. I know, I know I said I would not do that, but this was for the greater good of mankind!

Mmm. Tasty greater good.

Daycare does a meal train for people in need. One of the families in our classroom just had a kid and asked for stews. I could literally could not say no! Ok... not literally or even figuratively really, but I like beef stew. I went through a dozen or so cookbooks before I found the right recipe. So without further ado Mother's Old Fashioned Beef Stew or simply beef stew.

3 tablespoons flour
Salt / pepper to taste
3 lbs beef cut into 1 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons beef fat
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 onion (I used Vidalia), sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon marjoram, powdered
2 bay leaves
3 cups beef stock
2 1/4 red wine (I used a cheap Cabernet Sauvignon)
6 turnips, 3/4" cubed
9 carrots, ~1/2" sliced
6 potatoes, 3/4" cubed (I used larger baking potatoes)
1 1/2 fresh flat parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme (pretty sure I forgot this)
18 small white onions (I wanted pearl but couldn't find them), peeled

Put flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix. A few at a time drag the beef cubes through and coat on all sides. Refill as necessary.

Heat butter and fat in a stock pot. A few at a time brown beef cubes on all sides. When browned move to a plate or bowl to capture the juices. Add butter/fat as needed. Deglaze the pot with the wine, scrapping up all the bits. Add remaining wine, garlic, sliced onions, parsley, beef cubes, parsley, marjoram, bay leaves, and stock. Simmer for one and a half hours.

Add carrots, potatoes, small white onions, and turnips. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender, about two hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.

So I have moderately modified this recipe. The original was more or less 2/3rds the above, but I tweaked a few numbers.

One I did not modify was the extra large bottle of cheap wine.
I did not limit the excessive amount of meat either. 

This is from a Holland House cookbook. For those unfamiliar Holland House makes those cheap salted cooking wines available at the grocery. They're my go to sherry and Marsala. That said, I wanted to go with drinking wine not cooking wine (so I could drink it, duh). As a result I was pretty generous with the salt to taste part.

This is basically a commercial in book form.

Before I really got into making the recipe, I trimmed the fat and rendered it to get the fat needed.

I am just being practical.

Next time a family in need needs stew count me in for this one!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Santa's Whiskers

I am not a baker. I can make a mean batch of Duncan Hines brownies. Mmm brownies... But seriously baking is not my forte.

This is what I am told, in common parlance, is known as a cookie.

So next in the cookbook line up is a generic ones size fits all cookbook, Americas Best Recipes: A 1993 Hometown Collection, and the wifey requested cookies. So fire up that KitchenAid mixer and get ready for mediocrity!

Generic cookbook...
Generic cookbook...
Southern cookbook?

1 cup butter (two sticks), room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup finely quartered candied cherries

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beat well. Add milk and vanilla, beat. Add flour, pecans, and cherries, beat.

Shape into two 8 inch long rolls. Wrap in was paper and freeze until firm.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Unwrap and cut into 1/4" slices. Space 2-3 inches apart on a ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until edges lightly brown: 8-10 minutes.

You were supposed to roll these in coconut before freezing. I hate coconut. Fuck that. And although the whole "whiskers" thing probably does not make sense without it, I feel the need to reiterate: fuck coconut.

Also to fit the Santa theme, you're supposed to use half red candies cherries and half green candied cherries. I am, however, not made of money. So green it is!

Doing home improvements and cooking at the same time is fine... just keep the epoxy out of the cookies.

I froze them a little too long. When discussing my options for my dough batons on Facebook, I got an interesting suggestion: spousal murder. But after a moment of reflection, I opted for letting it thaw on the counter for a few minutes. I have no regrets. The wifey is a keeper.

I would have hesitated less if she had cleaned the freezer for me...

It seems a shame to waste a good cookbook blog post on such lackluster results. So remind me in a decade when I have gotten through every other cookbook to revisit this one.

This is unquestionably a cookie that is edible.

If I am ever accused of uxoricide, it was all Justin's idea.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sopa de Ajo

Round two: SPICY!*

1,001 Best Hot and Spicy Recipes is next on my shelves and that presents a problem that will pop up a handful of times during this process. The wifey is not a super adventurous eater. We eat mountains of chickens because we both despise the filthy beasts... er I mean we both like chicken. But she does not like stew/soup (with the exception of her mother's matzo ball soup) or beef. She flat out refuses anything spicy or pork. So while today's recipe is not really that spicy, it was made just for me. Which is why I picked a soup.

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced.
1 aji chile, stems and seeds removed (or yellow wax hot or jalapeño)
2 cups chicken stock (I used some very flavorful homemade stuff)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon finely grated Romano cheese (I used Parmesan)
1 teaspoon parsley

In a heavy pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, quickly stirring in the flour. Stir until the garlic begins to brown. Add the chiles, stock, salt, pepper, eggs, and cheese and mix well. Bring to boil, the reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. If desired strain the soup. Serve hot, garnished with the parsley.

* - The reports of a high spice level have been greatly exaggerated. That is to say: this shit ain't spicy at all.

This was one meal sized serving (for me) by the way. Multiple as appropriate.

"If desired strain the soup." I was leery of this step, but went with it. I am glad I did. Despite my best efforts some of the egg had resulted in large blobs. After straining it only itty bitty pieces of egg were in there. It was a nice smooth texture as a result.

As a texture person, this probably saved this recipe from disaster for me.

So for better or for worse, I substituted cheeses because I had a half a block of good Parmesan in my fridge. One must be frugal after all.

Also I could only find jalapeño at my grocery. I stemmed and seeded it, but wanting some heat I added a few seeds back in. It did not make any difference only adding a few much to my disappointment.

Pictured: not enough seeds to make the slightest difference.

Taste = great. Gas = super stinky. Seriously, not to get overly personal but my gas usually is not too bad. This however made my butt toxic! I might make this again next time I am home alone!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Bookshelf

My cookbooks (and core gaming books)

Broiled Tarragon Chicken with White Wine

2017-08-29 Edit: I made this with cooking wine and marinated overnight. Do not try this method.

So I have a completely unrealistic goal! Want to hear? Sure you do! If you are actually reading this that is and not just skipping straight to the recipe below that is. I am going to attempt to blog something from every single cookbook I own.

Step One of Fifty-Five and Counting

I estimate that given my blogging output and the age of my child, this will take my approximately ten years! It is good to have goals right? So today we start with the first cookbook on my shelf alphabetically: 365 Easy Low Calorie Recipes. Why alphabetically? Because otherwise I will cherry pick and stop this process long before I am done.

So I bought this cookbook at a Half Priced Books clearance event at the local conventions center about three years ago. I am fairly confident it has only collected dust since then! Flipping through it, it seems to be a pretty standard "diet" cookbook: low calorie meals, low calorie alternatives, low calorie variations on classics, super basic recipes. Let us take a shot at that last one.

2 tablespoons dry white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
3/8 teaspoons tarragon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast slice thick-wise

In a medium bowl combine everything but the chicken. Mix well. Coat chicken and let marinate one hour at room temperature.

Set oven rack about six inches from broiler. Preheat broiler. 

Broil chicken (in a broiler safe tray or pan, duh) about six minutes each side or until cooked through. 

I almost made the low calorie Hollandaise sauce. Then I thought to myself, I cannot think of the last time I made a Hollandaise sauce. I feel like I must have at some point right? I mean it is a classic. Hell, Wikipedia says the following: Hollandaise is one of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. Surely I have made it at some point right? Right... So I couldn't bring myself to go there. Luckily a bottle of wine and this was otherwise stocked in the house.

Oh and in case it is not obvious by the "eighths" ingredients, I halved the original. Also it was implied that they were using bone-in breast, so I cut the cooking times appropriately.

Aside: I think I really like tarragon. 

Anyway, two tablespoons of wine is a nice excuse to buy a bottle of Pinot right? I will be trying this one again with a bottle of "cooking white wine" and without the salt. I will also try leaving it in the fridge over night. Because if it is nearly as good that way, this might get regular rotation in the house. Preheat and twelve minutes cooking? Yeah: fingers crossed. 

One for the chicken... twenty five for me!

Oh my! Oh goodness! I need more of this in my life!!! YES, yes please.

Or should I say: I liked it.

Mark's Thighs

[insert product placement here]

We are living dangerously (again)! Today's recipe is a Archduke Domestic ORIGINAL. That is right folks prepare yourselves to be wowed with an entirely unoriginal original recipe that I, your humble guide, wrote!

So what inspired this risqué move? Well let us put on our memory caps folks! Remember my Pressure Cooker Sauerbraten (which I really need to make again come to think of it) post from a while back? That was fun and all, but it was not exactly something I was going to make on any regularity. On top of that, I had been looking to break out my chicken breast rut (as you might have noticed by my two chicken thigh recipes earlier this year). So that led me down a path of quick easy and minimal special ingredients.

4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
(1) 14 1/2 ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (fresh or Kraft)
1 teaspoon-ish season salt (see commentary)

Mix the chicken broth, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in the pressure cooker. Add chicken thighs.

Bring to pressure and cook 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. 

While cooking mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and season salt in a bowl.

Safely release pressure. Line a broiler safe pan or tray with foil. Roll each chicken thigh in the bread crumb mix. Place skin up on the pan. 

Turn on the broiler of your oven (do not preheat). Broil thighs until lightly browned (to taste).

This is about five minutes of active cooking and another twenty-five of passive. Other than having to remember to buy/thaw chicken thighs ahead of time, I have everything in my house. This is the penultimate weeknight recipe (nothing will ever surpass the ease and speed of chicken and cheese quesadillas). Any given Tuesday or Wednesday you can expect this to be made in the ol' Sutcliffe household.

This also comes out pretty salty if I use a full teaspoon. But I like it that way. So I would not begrudge anyone for using less.

This is "not wow the boss convincing him to give you that much deserved raise" recipe... That raise you need to buy that amazing investment property that is not on the market yet. That you have an inside track on, you just need the money. If get the raise, you get the property, and you would be set. One simple raise and it is smooth sailing from then on. Why cannot he see you deserve it more than that jackass Jenkins. He is nothing but a talentless brown noser who just happened to have gone to the same alma mater as the boss. Why cannot he see it!!! WHY???

Er... excuse me. I mean this is a lovely and simple recipe for a quick and pleasant dinner, but not exactly haute cuisine.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Georgia Caviar

Behold the glory! Seriously, this is just pretty.

This tastes good and all. I really to do enjoy eating it. But way more importantly it has single handled justified my purchase of a mandolin last year! Want a mandolin? Make this a few times without, you will feel totally justified!

So this summer and last I made this a couple times. It is a great little make ahead picnicy side dish.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil
3 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can niblet corn, such as Green Giant Mexicorn, drained and rinsed
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped

In a small pot, heat the sugar and vinegar. Once the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and add the oil. Mix well.

In a large bowl, mix the black-eyed peas, corn, green bell peppers, onions and red bell peppers and toss with the dressing. Place in the fridge until ready to eat (preferably at least overnight).

This tastes good, but I love the look of this. If you make a solid effort to chop the ingredients to roughly the size of the beans: perfection.

It is even pretty in process.
The question is do you serve with a slotted spoon or regular? I like things saucy, the wifey does not. It is best to have both on hand IMHO.

In fact the wifey likes it as a chip dip. Weirdo.

I have a new summer pot luck / picnic / get-together go to.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Apricots, Olives, and Almonds

Sometimes you have to take risks in life. Some men quit their jobs to start their own companies. Some climb the highest peaks or ride the rapidest rivers. I choose to serve dinner with ingredients the wifey and I dislike. 

Dinner is served.

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 onion, trimmed, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds in a spice bag
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons low-sodium chicken broth
(1) 7 3/4 ounce can chickpeas, drained
8 large green olives (condition to be debated in commentary)
1/4 cup dried apricots (condition to be debated in commentary)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

If necessary, remove skin and bones from chicken thighs.

In a the slow cooker, toss the chicken thighs with the onion, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and chicken broth, cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Stir in the chickpeas, olives and apricots, cover and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the apricots are plump, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaf and season the juices with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 7 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden.

Spoon the chicken and juices into shallow bowls, sprinkle with the toasted almonds and serve.

Check your nuts! Seriously. Testicular cancer is nothing to laugh at. Also check you nuts as you toast them. I checked them. They seemed almost done. I went pee. I get back and they are burnt and smoky. Luckily I had bought a half cup bag of almond slices!

None of my regular readers will be surprised to learn this is a Food & Wine recipe. The only meaningful chance I made from the original was halving the recipe. Two adults and a toddler, although we are all big eaters, probably should not polish off three pounds of chicken thighs in one sitting.

Hmm. Well that will not do!

Speaking of halving the recipe 1/4 cup of jumbo green olives is literally four olives. I doubled that somewhat arbitrarily. 

My one regret was I did not cut the apricots and olives. The tastes did not blend because of it. You tasted all chicken. Then all olive. If I revisit I will halve the apricots and quarter the olives (remember I used large olives, so if you are using smaller olives I would half).

Slice & dice and this is all good.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken

Well hello there! Long time no see. <insert obligatory President Trump jokeHow are the kids? Oh Susie got the lead in the school play? Well that is just fantastic. Good for her. I am sure it will be the best Annie Get Your Gun the high school theater has ever done!

Aside: are high schools even allowed to do Annie Get Your Gun these days? I mean it is a classic, but guns are bad m'kay.

Anyway, now that we have caught up after my long absence, let us dive into a recipe that I had pretty mixed feelings about. (I really know how to make a come back!)

My mom says I have INNER beauty, which she says is the best type of beauty.

So today we have a bit of an odd ball. The recipe below is how I made it. But I have noted how I will make it next time (and there may or may not be a next time). And if you have far too much free time I linked the slightly different original.

I got this recipe from the New York Times at some point. Probably from their daily briefings emails. Maybe I should ask those guys if the local high school theater can do Annie...

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
6 garlic cloves, minced
Juice and zest of 2 lemons (or 1 if following my commentary)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste
2 tablespoons minced dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons ground thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, more to taste
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (delete if following my commentary)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine chicken with all but 1 teaspoon of the grated garlic (save that teaspoon for the yogurt sauce), the zest and juice of 1 lemon, oil, parsley, thyme, oregano, the salt, and the sesame seeds. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the broiler. Arrange a rack 3 to 4 inches from the heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spread chicken out in a single layer. Broil chicken, turning halfway through cooking, until well colored and charred in spots, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Be careful that it doesn’t burn, but is cooked through.

While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserved grated garlic and lemon zest and season to taste with salt. (Or, you know, do not. Whatever works for you.)

Serve the chicken drizzled to taste with olive oil, remaining lemon juice to taste, black pepper, and sesame seeds with the yogurt alongside for dipping.

In short: SKIP THE SAUCE. The yogurt sauce was terrible. It was nothing but a overpowering lemon flavor. Seriously even using the sauce extremely sparingly it was too much. The wifey scraped what little she used of it off (luckily I served it separate). I made repeated disappointing attempts to use it in smaller and smaller quantities. Just ditch it. When you do that, you have a pretty solid recipe.

Now that I have said this, there may have been a chance I messed up the sauce (I think the juice of lemon #2 was in the yogurt). Still the chicken was great, so stop arguing with me and just make the chicken darn it!

It looks pretty while marinading. Just not so much in it's final form.

My grocery did not have boneless skinless chicken thighs that I could find and I was too lazy to ask. So I bought bone-in thighs complete with skin. With patience and a good knife, it was not too bad to convert the desired condition myself. That said I feel like the net effort of not asking, then de-boning was a loss.

Chicken: awesome. Sauce: <gag>.