Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Slow-Cooked Green Beans 2

The market was beautiful last Sunday, and the bags-of-mixed-veg lady ($4 per instead of her usual $3, alas, though she hopes to have the prices back down soon) had irresistible green beans and Brussels sprouts for sale.This recipe is a riff on the one in both Bittmans - just increased the amount of onion and tomato, added garlic and seasoned with fish sauce at the end.

NOTE: Apparently, I have cooked this before. While that version is good, I'm ok with the double-post because of the picture and the patis variant.
  • 1.75 lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 1-1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-1/2 cup tomato, chopped (mine was a mix of hand-crushed and diced)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more if needed
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • at least 1 tsp. fish sauce (patis)
Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and cook over medium-low heat for at least one hour, checking every 15 minues and adding a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary.

When the beans are very tender and the liquid is gone (didn't wait quite that long in this case - they were falling apart and creamy-tender about 1-1/2 hour in), they're ready. Season with fish sauce to taste.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chicken Adobo (4) with Livers

This latest in the adobo chronicles is a fairly mellow, but flavorful and rich (perhaps partially because of the chicken livers) version. The base recipe comes via Burnt Lumpia (who adapted it from Steamy Kitchen); I merely fiddled with some proportions and added the livers. Next time I may try crushing the garlic instead (which gives me discrete cloves to nibble on or smash into the rice) and adding gizzards (balunbalunan in Tagalog; grandma used to put an extra helping in her adobo for me).
  • about 3 lbs. chicken (4 leg quarters in this case)
  • 1/2 lb. chicken livers
  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (minced or smashed, as you prefer)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Marinate for at least two hours.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer till chicken is done (about 20-30 minutes).

Remove chicken from pot and reserve. Bring heat to high and reduce the sauce, stirring often, till it thickens to desired consistency (I was getting hungry, and so stopped after about five minutes - perhaps halfway to almost-thick-enough-to-coat-the-back-of-a-spoon. Tasted fine, though.)

Pat the chicken pieces dry, then place them skin-side-up on a baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet. Place under a broiler and broil till the skin is crisp, about 2-4 minutes.

Serve with white rice, pouring sauce over everything.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

During a business trip to San Antonio in 2008, I was struck by a mighty cough and cold. Though enervated and mostly voiceless throughout, I managed to stick it through, sustained in no small part by multiple daily helpings of flavorful, nutritious chicken tortilla soup from Sazo's. The recipe below is adapted from their own - it turned out to be a rich, comforting soup with just the right amount of heat, though I skipped the cheese and fried tortilla strips, and despite a rather makeshift broth. (The chicken parts I was planning to use for stock had spoiled, and I didn't have any good canned broth available, so I made do with 4 cups water, two cubes of Telma veggie boullion and a cheesecloth-wrapped bundle of chopped onion, 6 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp. of black peppercorns and a smattering of dried thyme. Simmered all that for 20 minutes, squeezed all the juices out of the bundle - the resultant broth turned out quite tasty - then proceeded with the recipe.)
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 2 chicken breasts (originally 3, but I made do with what the little bodega had)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, seeded and diced (used canned Muir Glen; original called for 3 large tomatoes)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (originally a white one)
  • 1 cup salsa - Jardine's 7J Ranch Texasalsa, Hot (originally 2 cups of picante sauce)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • guacamole to taste (used this recipe)
  • fried tortilla strips (skipped this time)
  • cheese to taste (skipped this time - may use a mixture of cheddar and Monterey Jack next time)
Place chicken and stock in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer till chicken is done, about 15 minutes (when it reaches 160 degrees). Remove chicken from liquid and reserve.

Add tomatoes, onion, salsa/picante sauce, salt, pepper and cumin to liquid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Dice cooked chicken and add to liquid. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary, then add cilantro.

Cut tortillas into strips and fry till crispy. To serve, place tortilla strips, a generous scoop of guacamole, and grated cheese in a bowl, then ladle soup over everything.

Guac It to Me!

I had never made guacamole before - but I'm feeling poorly again, and have been craving some chicken tortilla soup that requires it for a garnish. A slight modification of Alton Brown's recipe (to fit the contents of my pantry) produced something rich and flavorful, more than capable of standing on its own.
  • 1 avocado, seeded and peeled
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1/4 large red onion, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced (used about 2/3 cup of canned Muir Glens)
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Combine avocado and lime juice in a nonreactive bowl. When avocado is coated, drain and reserve any leftover juice.

Add salt, cumin and cayenne; mix and mash together (used two forks).

Add red onion, tomato, cilantro and garlic. Mix and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Add reserved lime juice (if any - there wasn't any for me). Let sit at room temperature for an hour, then serve.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spicy Lentil Soup

With the tinola gone and Snowpocalypse 2: Electric Boogalo imminent, my thoughts turned once again to soup. This is a hopped-up version of a Bittman recipe, with more than double the amount of ginger and garlic. It's also, thus far, a flavorful soup - earthy from the lentils and cumin, sharp from the ginger and cilantro, a bit hot from the cayenne - and, above all, comforting on this cold evenkng. When I started chopping the cilantro, the grassy tang that filled my nostrils was a welcome moment of spring in the winter evening.
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (didn't have this, so skipped it this time)
  • 6 cups broth or water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 1-2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomato (I used canned and added the juices to the lentil cooking liquid)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
Put lentils, carrots and celery (if you have it) in a pot with the liquid. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer till the lentils are soft (about 30-40 minutes).

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low (or medium if you have my cantankerous stovetop) heat. Add the onion and ginger and saute till the onion's soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till that softens too, about 2-3 minutes more.

Add the cilantro, tomatoes, cayenne pepper and cumin. Stir, then keep on low heat. When lentils are ready, add the tomato mixture to the lentils.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

In the post-snowpocalypse lull, we finally got to try out Kate's wonderful Christmas present - a DIY goat cheese kit. Thanks are also due to Bradley, who procured goat's milk from a Whole Foods near his workplace.


First, we sterilized the various implements by boiling them in water for 5 minutes.

While waiting, we dissolved a teaspoon of citric acid in 1/4 cup of water.

Once the sterilizing was done, we improvised a double boiler and started heating the milk till it was foamy and steamy (180-190 degrees F), stirring often - well, in my case, pretty much constantly - to prevent scorching. This coincided with the Who's halftime show, which the stirring person was able to see most of via reflection in a painting frame.

Once it reached the desired temperature and began foaming, we drizzled in the citric acid solution and, following the dirctions, stirred for 10-15 seconds till we saw some subtle curding.


Yeah, I wasn't sure if I those counted as curds, but John convinced me to trust the recipe.Then we removed the pot from the heat and continued to stir, adding a bit more citric acid, till the whey turned a very pale shade of yellow-green instead of staying whitish.

Then we poured the curds and whey (along came no spider, thankfully) into a cloth-lined colander. My trepidations regarding what I wasn't quite sure counted as valid curds were relieved, at this point, when they formed into something very much cheese-like.


Since this was the first batch, we decided not to get fancy with herbs and/or additional seasonings, and just see how it turned out. After another 5-10 minutes of draining, it was time to shape!

We pressed about half the cheese into the provided molds,


and shaped the other half into a rough wheel.  (Note the jar of expired homemade pickles weighting the cheese down.)


After an hour in the fridge - congratulations, Saints! -

it was ready to sample.

It turned out well, too - creamy and mild, though perhaps a bit less tangy than one might be used to. Now that the basics of a system are in place, though, we can't wait to experiment some more - especially since that kit promises to make nine more batches. Thanks again, Kate!

UPDATE: Below: the baby cheeses!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Comfort on A Cold Day

The snufflings, sneezings, shivers and general malaise of the past few days have been ameliorated by generous servings of both comfort food and drink. Chicken soup, of course - a hearty tinola this time, with even more ginger and garlic than usually called for (3x2 in. chunk and 5-6 cloves, respectively, along with 3.5 lbs. of chicken, a medium onion, 6 cups of water and about 3-4 tbsp. patis).


And a nice hot toddy, whether with or without tea.
Catchup posts - including braised bok choy and bento collections - in a bit.