Saturday, September 27, 2008

Week In Review - Sept. 22-26

Although poor little Marky is still suffering from his tooth troubles, the cooking must go on...

Monday was a recipe we've made so many times, I don't have to reference it anymore.

Veggie Chili
Adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and chopped (sometimes I use frozen pepper blends when red bells are $5 a piece)
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • garlic cloves (at least 4), crushed and chopped
  • 1 cup dark beer (I love to use Dos Perros by Nashville's Yazoo brewery or Shipyard's Pumpkin Ale) or vegetable stock/broth
  • 1 (32- ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 half palm full of ground cumin
  • 1 palm full of yr favorite chili powder
  • hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 15 oz. can spicy vegetarian refried beans

We turn the stove to a good 6 1/2 to 7 and combine onion, peppers, and garlic in our 5-quart cast iron dutch oven. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Deglaze pan with beer or broth, add tomatoes, black beans, red kidney beans, stirring to combine...

Season chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and salt. Thicken chili by stirring in refried beans. Simmer over low heat about 5 to 10 minutes longer, then serve up bowls of chili and top with shredded sharp cheddar and any number of other things you might have on hand. Our favorites are: scallions, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, avocado, fresh tomatoes (if you have them), extra dashes of hot sauce (if you're me. I swear, I have no taste buds left. I used to scold my friend Dylan for the very same thing), sour cream (if you're Mark and can't get enough white dairy). Sometimes we crumble in tortilla chips.

As many times as we've made it, we never tire of this stuff. I've made it during the middle of sweltering July heat and we've relished it just as much. We often make double batches and freeze some for later. It comes in very handy on Monday nights, usually our laziest time in the kitchen.

Thursday we improvised with the leftover noodles Mark made on Saturday. He chopped the sheets of sage peppercorn pasta into linguine-like strips while I made the sauce.

I got the idea from here, realizing we had leftover cream in the fridge.

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce
An Adaptation

3 tablespoons butter
4 strips of bacon, diced and cooked in a separate skillet
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
Pinch of red pepper flakes
garlic cloves (at least 3), minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, rinsed, patted dry and chopped (3 tablespoons)
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 15 oz. cans tomatoes (I had 1 15 oz. can of Muir Glen fire roasted and a 15 oz. can of Hunt's diced with jalepeno)
leftover fresh pasta or 1 lb. cooked pasta of your choice
1/2 cup heavy cream
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese

The original recipe had ridiculous measurements. I hate it when a recipe calls for an odd amount of canned substance, i.e., 1 cup diced tomatoes....No. What do you do with the remainder? Throw them out? Painstakingly put them away in the fridge? Um, no. So I use whole cans when I use them and adjust the seasoning accordingly. When I first starting cooking for myself, I was always intimidated by the recipe, abiding by it completely, but now, I almost always only use the recipe as a guideline. The rest is determined by what ingredients I have on hand and what kind of mood I'm in. With that being said, here's the process:

1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cooked bacon, onion, bay leaf, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup wine (or veg broth in my case) and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Remove bay leave from sauce and discard. Stir in cream, remaining 2 tablespoons crushed tomatoes, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine or broth/stock; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add pasta to sauce. Stir in basil and serve immediately. Add fresh Parmesan, if desired.

This was a success, but I don't know if we'd make it again. It was too creamy for my taste. However, I was very happy to use up the rest of those noodles. It was a lovely twist that made this dish.

That same night, Mark chose (rather ambitiously in my opinion) to make some bread. He's live with the story here:

Mark's Cheesy Bacon Bread Endeavor

from Jamie Oliver via Sass and Veracity

I'm trying to branch out in the dough crafts, so when Wendy showed me this awesome recipe from the blog Sass and Veracity I knew I had to make it.

Bread dough has a different feel altogether and it was a lot of fun to make. If you follow her recipe here, my process was basically the same except I used FOUR TIMES THE BACON and a lot more cheese. The kitchen was ransacked afterward because I didn't prepare very well, but when it was all said and done, we had a house that smelled like delicious bacon a beautiful loaf of cheesy, smokey bacon bread.

Thanks, Mark. Truth be told, the oven was left on overnight and I woke up in a sweltering heat. Luckily, he didn't kill me and my cat in the name of his dough endeavors. Yet, quite nicely, the house has smelled like bacon ever since....and why aren't there bacon scented candles yet?

Oh, good Lord in heaven, I love me some bacon. I've been reading tons and tons of recipes for bacon as favorite of which can be found here . Well, today at the Whole Foods, I ate a rather fine piece of chocolate:

It was indescribably good in its texture and taste. Don't question it until you think long and hard about it (e.g., waffle + bacon + maple syrup, is it not a dessert?).

The meat continues, kids. Go ahead, hide your eyes.

2 p.m. Saturday

We proceeded to purchase 2 lbs. ground sirloin and make some pretty incredible burgers.

I've recently become obsessed with Tamarind chutney. Luckily, I live next door to an Indian grocery store. I love this place. I will not describe it right now because this post has already exceeded it's limits, but maybe later.

Anyway, we made the best burgers ever.

I was inspired, yet again, by a post over at The Bitten Word.

I composed a sauce of 1 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. of mandolined ginger (too much ginger if you were chopping by hand--luckily I found a mandolin last week at the TJ Maxx), honey, ketchup, tamarind concentrate, chipotle chiles, smashed garlic and cider vinegar in my smallest sauce pan. Once it reached a boil, I turned down the heat and simmered it over low until it was thickened (20 minutes).

In the meantime, Mark prepared the toppings by tearing some lettuce, slicing an heirloom tomato we'd purchased (the first we've bought since June, as I remember it), and setting out the condiments. He also took a moment to say hello to an unexpected guest in our garden that he spotted scaling a tree root:

a turtle friend

I made an aluminum foil packet of mandolined onions, chopped poblano pepper (it really had to be used or thrown away at this point), and topped it with a small pat of butter and some additional tamarind sauce. This went on the grill when the burgers did.

It all turned out rather beautifully as you can tell:

-Mark's burger

Although I detest mayo, I must say it's quite beautiful in this presentation that you'll see below...though it kept me from sharing our usual dishtowel napkin during the meal.

He had to have a separate one as I wasn't about to be exposed to that business.

1 comment:

cook eat FRET said...

are you ready?

you're welcome