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Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

Alright, so I didn’t cook last night, nor did I post anything yesterday. In light of that here’s what I made Wednesday night, a Pork Curry. This recipe came from my father-in-law in Japan. He was very excited when he sent it over and translated it into English for me. Some of the measurements that I used are a little different from his since he’s on the Metric System. I also did a couple of things different. Overall my dish was pretty true to his recipe.

To start, I sautéed a sliced onion, a shredded carrot, and two ribs of celery chopped in some soy oil with garlic and ginger. Uichiro adds a little butter, I didn’t because I’ve been eating a lot of butter lately. I need to keep my girlish figure.

Once the vegetables were sweated down for about 7 minutes I added about 2/3’s of a pound of pork chops that I had sliced to about 1/4 inch width. I let the pork cook just until the exterior turned white but the insides were still uncooked. Then I added 2 tablespoons of curry powder, about a teaspoon of black pepper, 5 tablespoons of flour, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, and 1 teaspoon of turmeric. I stirred that all in and sautéed for a few more minutes. Then I poured in 50 ml of white wine and let it boil down.

Once the wine had boiled down I added three cups of water, a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (Uichiro chopped 1 cup of fresh tomatoes), 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, once chicken bouillon cube, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Once that all came to a boil I covered it and turned the heat down to med-low. That simmered for about 40 minutes.

After the 40 minutes I took a half an apple and grated it into. This adds a lot of sweetness as well as some starch to help the flour thicken it up a bit. I also added a large pinch of sugar to help balance out the spice.

To add a green element to the curry I threw some mache leaves in right after turning off the heat. Uichiro didn’t do that. It really didn’t need it, I just wanted to add the color.

Overall, I have to say, it’s another winner from Uichiro. Next time I think I’ll use about a half cup less water, but otherwise it was delicious. I am disappointed that he didn’t have a cool name for the dish though. He calls his meatloaf “cool breeze amongst the pine trees”. I have no idea why, but it is a damn good meatloaf!

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For Meatless Monday last night I made some burger patties out of quinoa. To go along with it I made a very simple vegetable soup.

To make the soup I sautéed a half onion, a carrot, two ribs of celery, a fennel bulb, and some asparagus all chopped in some olive oil with minced garlic. I let the vegetables sweat for about 6 or 7 minutes.

Then I added two chopped tomatoes, a few cups of boiling water, a bay leaf, and the rind from some parmigiano-reggiano. I seasoned with salt and pepper and let it simmer over low heat for a while.

To make the quinoa patties I first sautéed a few thinly sliced green onions in some olive oil with a diced garlic clove. After a few minutes I added a cup of quinoa that I had rinsed a few times. I let the quinoa cook in the oil for a few minutes and then added 1.5 cups of hot water. Once that came to a boil I covered the pot and let it simmer at low heat for about 15 minutes.

After all the water had been absorbed I fluffed the quinoa with a fork and stirred in some grated parmesan, a handful of thinly sliced basil, salt, and pepper. Then I let it cool down for a bit. After it had cooled, I stirred in one egg and formed 8 patties. I put them in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm them up a bit.

In batches, I fried them over high heat in butter. I added a little butter as need be.

To serve, I laid a couple of patties on top of baby arugula. I made a simple sauce of basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in my small processor. I drizzled the sauce on top and then tossed some parmesan on top of that.

It turned out delicious, but the patties were very fragile. If I make them again I’m going to add some bread crumbs. I think that will help keep the patties firm and less prone to falling apart. But the flavors were great.

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Alright, I’m Jewish and not Mexican. But hey, both of our cultures were slaughtered by the Spanish so we share the same plight. Not really, but my mom lives in Mexico. To celebrate Mexican Independence I made my first attempt at a mole. Whole Foods had these fantastic lamb shoulder steaks on sale. Using a Oaxacan Red Mole recipe as my base, I altered it to fit the ingredients I could find as well as to make it more of a braise to break down the fat of the shoulder cut instead of a sauce like you typically see with a mole. While it’s usually not the best idea to screw around with a recipe you’re unfamiliar with, especially one with as many steps as mole, I’m confident enough in myself that it was no problem. The results almost couldn’t have been better!

To start, I soaked 3 ancho chiles and 4 New Mexico chiles in boiling water. I was looking for guajillo chiles, but couldn’t find any. So, I used the New Mexico ones instead. I have absolutely no idea if the two chiles are at all similar, and still don’t, but thought it was a risk worth taking.

While the chiles were soaking I heated up a skillet and, one spice at a time, toasted 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano. Once cooled I ground them up with my pestle and mortar.

Then I used the same hot skillet to roast two garlic cloves. Keep the skin on the cloves and just let them sit in the hot pan for about 2-3 minutes per side. When they were cool to touch I put them in the blender with a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and made a smooth puree.

I cleaned out the blender. I de-stemmed and de-seeded the chiles and pureed them with about a cup of the soaking water which had taken on a lot of the chile flavors and aromas. The recipe I was using only called for a tablespoon or so of the water, just enough to puree the chiles. Since I wanted a braising liquid instead of just a thick sauce I used a lot more of the water. I also set some aside in case I wanted to add more, but didn’t need to. After the chiles were pureed, I strained them into a bowl and set aside.

Alright, time to put the mole together. I heated up about 3 tablespoons of soy oil and added the spice mix from my mortar. After about 15 seconds I poured in the tomato sauce and then the pureed chiles. Careful though, it splatters! I mixed that all around. Once it started to boil I added 1/2 cup of sugar, 1.5oz of Mexican chocolate, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I let that come to a gentle boil.

While the mole was coming up to a boil I heated up some oil in a hot skillet, cut the lamb steaks into bite-sized pieces, and seared them off in batches. As they were seared they were tossed into the mole. I let them braise in the mole for about 30 minutes then I added two chopped carrots and let it all braise for another 45 minutes. The sauce became nice and thick.

For starch I made some cilantro mashed potatoes. I took 4 good-sized russets, skinned them, quartered them, and tossed them in a pot with cold water. I added salt and three large peeled garlic cloves. Then I brought it up to a boil. Once the water started to boil I let the potatoes go for about 25 minutes.

While that was going on I took a handful of cilantro and blended it with about 2/3 cup of soy milk. I then took 4 tablespoons of butter and cut that into smaller pieces. Once the potatoes and garlic were cooked I drained them and added them back to the pan. I poured the cilantro milk in and mashed it all up real good one pat of butter at a time. Then I seasoned with salt and pepper. They might have been the best damn mashed potatoes I’ve ever made!

For a side I heated up some olive oil and threw in two cloves of crushed garlic. A few minutes later I added 1/2 of an onion chopped and let that saute down a bit. Then I threw in a jalapeno that was seeded and sliced. A few more minutes and I threw in a bunch of sliced mushrooms. I had a few shiitake left in my fridge as well as a carton of buttons. Once those were almost cooked through I tossed in 1/2 radiccio that I had thinly sliced. I let that all wilt down, seasoned and then served. For garnish I broke up some cotija cheese.

To garnish the mole I diced an avocado. I also diced a red onion and soaked it in water for most of the day to draw out the rawness. Besides those two garnishes, I laid a few cilantro sprigs on top.

I have to say, for a Jew, I make a mean mole! The ony thing I think I’d do different is cut the sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/4 quarter cup. It was slightly sweet, but not so much that it was bothersome. Soy chingon!!!

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Last night I used up ingredients that were already in my fridge. Fresh vegetables don’t last forever, so I use them up within a couple of days after purchasing them. I decided to make a nice soup and get some salmon to grill alongside it.

For the soup, I started by sweating down half an onion, a carrot, and a rib of celery (all chopped) in some olive oil. After about 7 minutes I tossed in 2 crushed garlic cloves. A couple of minutes later I added a half of a yellow bell pepper chopped. I let that all sweat out for a few more minutes.

Then I dumped in one 14oz can of diced tomatoes (no salt added), one cup of chicken stock, and 1.5 cups of water. I stirred that all around and seasoned with some salt. There was a Parmigiano Reggiano rind in my cheese drawer, I try not to through them away once the grateable part of the cheese is used for reasons like this, so I dropped that in as well. By doing so a subtle sharpness is added to both the taste and aroma, you can tell there’s Parmigiano in there. Once that started to boil I covered the pot and simmered over a med-low heat for about 20 minutes.

I had a zucchini in my fridge from the day before, so I chopped that up and added it along with a half cup of Israeli couscous that was sitting in my cabinet. Then I let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes.

All I did to the salmon was rub some olive oil over the flesh, then salt and pepper. I grilled it to get the skin crisp.

To serve, I drizzled a little balsamic vinegar on the salmon and garnished with some fresh basil. I also sliced up a handful of basil and added it to the soup along with some black pepper just before serving. White rice was also on the menu.

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Last night’s dinner is probably the easiest thing in the world to make, chicken thighs and vegetables grilled. That’s basically it. What better way to enjoy fresh ingredients?

I took some skin-on bone-in chicken thighs and rubbed some olive oil into the skin then salted and peppered them. I cut one Chinese eggplant in half lengthwise, same with a zucchini. I cut up one and half yellow bell peppers into 1/3 inch strips. I cut a red onion in half and then each half into eighths (this sounds like I’m doing something entirely different) keeping the root end intact to keep the wedges together. I also took two tomatoes and cut them in half. I drizzled all of the vegetables with olive oil.

Then I threw everything on the grill. I started the chicken skin-side down to get it nice and crispy. I let all of the vegetables cook until just before they started to char. Then I took everything off the grill.

While the chicken was resting I cut the vegetables down into chunks and threw them into a large bowl. In the bowl I poured in about 1.5 tablespoons of balsamic vinager (so it’s technically not a grilled ratatouille), a little more olive oil, a handful of thinly sliced fresh basil, salt, and pepper. I tossed it all around for an even coat. I plated it all with some white rice. Simple as that.

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I made a vegetarian curry for Meatless Monday last night. For the protein I used paneer, but since it’s expensive ($8.99 for 8oz!) I decided to add a bunch of this really nice Japanese Eggplant they had at the store (only $2.99 a pound). I know eggplant isn’t protein, but it helped add substance to the dish while cutting the cost.

I started by melting 3 tablespoons of ghee in a medium-high pan. I added a teaspoon of ground cumin and let it cook for a minute. Then I added an inch of grated ginger and 4 minced garlic cloves. Once those became fragrant but not burned I added a small onion that I had roughly chopped and then put in a processor to finely mince it to the point just before it became liquidy. I let the onion cook for about 6 or 7 minutes before stirring in 2 teaspoons of freshly ground coriander seed. Then I added a large russet that I had peeled and small diced. That went for about five minutes before I added one 28oz can of diced tomatoes. To that I added 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of garam masala.

Once that all got to a slight boil I threw in five 5-6 inch Japanese Eggplants that were cut into chunks. Then I turned the heat down to medium-low, covered it, and let it stew for about 15 minutes.

Once the eggplant and potato were cooked through I added the block of paneer that I had cut into smaller chunks, about 3/4 inch cubes, and 3/4’s cup of peas. I just needed to the paneer and peas to heat through, so I let them sit in the simmering stew for about 8 minutes uncovered which also allowed it to thicken up a bit.

I wish I had some naan, but I did make some white rice to serve with it.

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Last night was the first night of Passover. In America, typically the first two nights of Passover are a huge deal in the Jewish household (in Israel they only have Seder on the first night). Families get together for big feasts of traditional foods and celebrate the liberation from Egypt led by Moshe himself, called a Seder. I do want to state that I am not religious, I’m atheist. However, I am culturally Jewish and thoroughly enjoy a meal that consists of Matzah Ball Soup and slow braised Brisket. This year my brothers and I had the first night at our cousins with my mom’s side of the family.

Here is the traditional Seder Plate that sits in the middle of the table. It contains the symbols of the Passover story. Starting at 2 o’clock is the Beitzah, a roasted egg that symbolizes the festival sacrifice. Then is the Zeroa, a roasted shankbone symbolizing the lamb’s blood that was marked on doors to keep the Jews safe from the 1oth plague. After that is the Maror, we use green onion to remind us of the bitterness and harshness of slavery. Charoset is next, apples, honey, walnuts, and wine that are blended into a thick paste representing the mortar used by Jews in constructing Egyptian storehouses. Next is Karpas, parsley is used for the coming of Spring. There’s a bowl of saltwater that is used to show the tears shed by Jews in slavery. You dip the Karpas into the saltwater. Finally, in the middle is a glass of wine that’s set aside for Elijah the prophet.

At each individual seat there’s a small plate with the edible symbols. After we get through the Haggadah and eat the Seder plate dinner gets started.

The first thing that get’s passed around is Gefilte Fish. It’s basically a classic Eastern European fish dumpling made out of whitefish and pike. It’s eaten with horseradish.

Next is the Matzah Ball Soup. I had two matzah balls, but had already cut them up into bite sized pieces when I remembered that I needed to take a photo. I also forgot to take a pic of the matzah, but that isn’t the end of the world. I do have to say that my Matzah Ball Soup is far superior, but that’s always the case.

Then some fresh vegetables. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions.

Here’s Grandma’s chopped chicken liver. Unfortunately it’s the only thing she makes anymore. She cooks up the livers, seasons them, and mashes it all down. My cousin Lorrie has to salt it though. Grandma’s taste buds aren’t quite what they used to be. But hey, she’s 86! She gets a pass.

Some bagels made out of matzah meal. They resemble bagels in shape only, but they aren’t bad.

Here’s the famous slow-braised Passover Brisket. Brisket is to Passover what turkey is to Thanksgiving. Again though, my brisket is better. I made the brisket last year, but not this year. I need to take charge of it again for the betterment of all our digestion.

Dessert consists of various cakes made with matzah meal flour and fresh fruit. Chocolate cake with raspberries, strawberry shortcake, brownies, carrot cake, grapes and strawberries.

For some reason I always tend to eat too much at Seders.

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I was flipping through a Jewish cookbook that I have trying to find recipes for Passover when I came across a recipe for Doro Wat, the national dish of Ethiopia. At first, I was surprised to see this. As I thought about it though, there has been a Jewish community in Ethiopia for thousands of years, untouched by the Romans or Crusaders. This allowed a more traditional interpretation of the Torah to exist, along with strict dietary Kashrut laws. I’m not saying that Doro Wat was created by the Jewish community, I don’t think anyone knows where its origins are, but it is consistent with a style of cooking prevalent throughout the Jewish diaspora during the Sabbath. Since it’s not permitted to do any work, cooking included, during the Sabbath, food is simmered on low heat for long periods of time. That way, when families get home from synagogue, a warm and filling meal is ready to go without further cooking.

I felt compelled to give it a whirl since Yuki and I both thoroughly enjoyed the two Ethiopian food experiences we’ve had. The recipe calls for a mix of spices, but I prefered to make a berbere to use instead. To make the berbere I mixed the following spices together all at a 1/2 teaspoon measurement: chili powder, paprika, ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cardamom seeds, ground cloves, and dried basil. Like any spice mix, you can make much more and store in a tight container for a few months.

To make the Doro Wat I first sautéed a diced large onion in some vegetable oil until it was soft but not burned, about 7 or 8 minutes. Then I grated in 6 garlic cloves and a 1/2 inch of fresh ginger and let those cook for a couple of minutes. After that, I added one cup of chicken stock and one 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and brought to a boil. I let it boil for about 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Next, I salted and peppered to taste.

I was making 4 servings, so I picked up 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. You can get a whole bird and break it down, purchase 4 complete leg sections, whatever you want to make 4 portions. Just make sure to use skin-on, bone-in chicken. The skin and bones will add depth to the dish. So, just before putting the thighs in the sauce I mixed in 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of the berbere that I made. Once the chicken was added I covered it with the sauce, turned the heat down, and let it simmer for an hour covered.

While the chicken was simmering I hard-boiled 4 eggs, one per portion. The egg is what really sets this dish apart from other chicken stews, so make sure every plate gets one. When the chicken only had about 10 minutes left I peeled the eggs, pricked them all over with a fork making sure not to break them, and then added them to the stew.

To serve with the Doro Wat I made another traditional Ethiopian dish of stewed greens. Typically collard greens are used, but Stanley’s had some beautiful chard, so I used that instead. It’s a real simple recipe. Fry a diced red onion in some olive oil for a few minutes, then add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and 1/2 inch grated ginger. After that, add 2 green chilis that have been seeded and sliced. Add about 1/3 cup of water and let come to a boil for a couple of minutes. Then, add one red pepper that’s been seeded and sliced as well as 1 pound of whatever green you use (collard, chard, kale, cabbage, etc.) thinly sliced. Season with salt and pepper, mix it all up and cook over a med-low heat for about 25 minutes partially covered. That’s all there is too it.

As much as I wanted to make some Injera, I have absolutely no idea where to find teff, the grain used to make it. I found a bunch of recipes, but no teff. So, I just made some basmati rice.

I have to say, this is one of the best tasting dishes I’ve ever made! The sauce is so friggin delicious, I am definitely keeping it in my regular rotation. It would be equally good with lamb instead of chicken. I would even give shrimp a try in this sauce.

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Alright, finally my last Restaurant Week experience. Yuki and I took advantage of the Art Institute’s free month in February this past Sunday. Afterwords we had planned on meeting up with a couple of friends, one in from Japan, for dinner downtown. We walked by Texas de Brazil and it looked damn tasty. So, I asked the hostess if they were participating in restaurant week, and when she said yes I made a reservation for us. What they normally charge for $50, we got for $32. Not a bad deal at all, not bad. Those of you have been to a Churrascaria before know what I’m talking about.

Again, the pics were taken with my cell, so they’re not the best quality. Also, if you’re a vegetarian or a little squeemish, don’t look any further. There are chunks of bloody animal carcass on my plate. Consider yourself warned.

We started off with a round of caipirinha’s. While the bartender whipped those up we headed over to the sushi and salad bars.

I apologize, I ate the sushi and most of my first run to the salad bar before snapping a pic. I have to say, the sushi was quite good. There were three different maki rolls, tuna and avocado, california, and salmon. The salad bar was outrageous! Check out their website for a complete list of items. My favorites were the tuna tataki, pomegranate quinoa, and the cheeses. Everything was top quality. They did not skimp at all. The soup was lobster bisque, which for some reason none of us tried. Why is that?

Once we finished the first round at the salad bar the meat-a-thon began! Flip the token to green and meat just started flying everywhere! Highlights were the garlic beef (of course), bacon-wrapped filet (of course), and the sausages (of course). I asked the gaucho what the sausage was spiced with and his answer was brilliant, “Brazillian spices”. Great, now I know how to make them at home. Other tasty bits were the lamb chops, leg of lamb, and flank steak. Just like the salad bar the meat was all top quality. They definitely did not buy their meats from Jewel! While mauling the meat we were served mashed potatoes, little cheese puffs, and fried plantians as well.

After ingesting about two and three fifths of large farm animals I thought it would be best to get some leafy greens in my stomach. I made another run to the salad bar and just grabbed some mixed greens and topped them with what they call “Brazillian Dressing”, just some small diced tomatoes and peppers in lime juice. Had I not gone for the salad I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to my intestines.

Dessert was also offered with our meal. We had our choice of a banana’s foster cheese cake or key lime pie. So, we got two of each.

I tell ya, as much fun as Churrascarias are and as delicious as they are, I don’t think I can go to one again. I always end up eating so much meat it’s not even funny. Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, it’s my favorite vegetable. Let’s be honest though, a 150 pound man should not swallow 207 pounds of dead animal in one sitting! It’s just not right! I almost couldn’t get up from the chair after the night’s festivities came to a halt. It also ruined my normal cycles for a few days, but that’s a whole different story in itself.

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I thought we were done with Restaurant Week, well, I thought wrong! A couple friends of ours had invited us to join them for dinner Saturday night at Salpicon. I’ve been there once before with  my sister and brother-in-law, maybe 5 years ago. I remember walking away fully satisfied both in my belly as well as my taste buds. So, the opportunity to dine there again, at the discounted restaurant week price, was too good to pass up as we’re not ones to miss out on top-notch Mexican food at a discount. Hanging out with Tony and Sandra was also a nice proposition which certainly didn’t hurt the matter.

I must warn you that I did use my cell phone camera again. The pics do not do the food the justice they deserve, but what can you do? Also, since there were four of us I have a lot of pics to show. They offered 5 different appetizers as well as 5 different entrees. What we did was order the 4 most interesting of each and shared them all. I’ll try to keep this post short, but no guarantees.

Ceviche of Blue Marlin. Very typical with onions, tomatoes, chiles, and cilantro. Served with tortillas it always makes a great starter.

Gorditas Divorciadas. Thick tortillas stuffed with black beans and shredded beef (I think brisket, which completely satisfies the Jew in me). They each had a different salsa. One was a guajillo and the other was serrano-tomatillo, both had Mexican crema drizzled on top.

This was the Trio de Tamalitos. Three little tamales, one with queso fresco and serrano chiles that had a spicy molcajete salsa and crema, another with black beans, rajas (a saute of chilis and onions), and chihuahua cheese with a black been puree, the last had zucchini and chipotles.

The last appetizer was Sopa de Lentejas, lentil soup. It was garnished with grilled pineapple, smoked bacon (YUM!!!), chile pasilla, and queso anejo.

For the entrees we got the Camarones al Mojo de Ajo. Big, plump, juicy grilled shrimp in a sweet garlic and olive oil sauce with avocado chunks, guajillo chiles, and white rice. Not too garlicky at all.

Chiles Rellenos. Two battered poblanos deep-fried and swimming in a roasted tomato sauce. One was stuffed with minced pork picadillo, the other with chihuahua cheese. There was a side dish of frijoles borrachos, but I forgot to get a pic of that. Deal with it!

Pollo en Mole Poblano. Two chicken breasted smothered in a rich, spicy mole and served with Mexican rice. It really was kind of spicy. My first bite gave me a couple of little hiccups.

Tinga Poblana. Pork tenderloin on top of a roasted tomato-chipotle sauce with chorizo and potatoes, surrounded by an avocado-tomatillo sauce. This was hands down the best in show! Nice soft tenderloin and chorizo….how could that go wrong?

Alright, time for dessert. We got a flan that was covered in a sugar dome.

Tres Leches.

A crepe filled with berries and a caramel sauce.

My personal favorite was the mango and pear cobbler. Not sure what it’s actually called, but it sure was delicious with the cajeta ice cream on top!

All in all it was a delicious dinner. It’s every bit on par with Rick Bayless as far as creativity and quality. While I just found out that they offer a $29 pre fix every Monday and Tuesday this restaurant week deal might not have been the best offer. However, on a weekend night it was. I would recommend to everyone that they check Salpicon out for the pre fix deals. If you don’t want a limited menu, it’s also definitely worth paying full price for.

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