Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cucumber Gin Cooler

Cucumber Gin Cooler, originally uploaded by essgee51.
Now that spring is finally here and summer's fast approaching, I'm moving from brown liquor to clear and researching crisp, cool drinks. This one, from Saveur, turned out well - light and refreshing, though I may fiddle a bit with the proportion of lime juice. The lightly pickled cukes are good to munch on once the drink's done.

For two:
  • 4 oz. Hendricks
  • 4 T lime juice
  • 1/4 c Kirby cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • tonic water
Fill two glasses about halfway with ice.

Put some ice, gin, lime juice and cucumber slices in a shaker with a small amount of ice. Shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes.

Pour into glasses, dividing the cucumber slices evenly. Top off with tonic water.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Brazilian Black Beans with Pork

Absolute home run of a recipe - the stew was smoky, rich and full of flavor; the sauce added a perfect accent of sharp, grassy tang. We pretty much followed the recipe in Cook's Illustrated's Slow Cooker Revolution - our reliable go-to - save for deglazing the onion and bacon mixture with a cup of water. I scraped the pan pretty well though, and the stew was more than rich enough, so no harm done. I may try a bit of acid next time, though. Recipes for the stew and the accompanying sauce follow.
  • 6 oz bacon
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander 
  • 4c chicken broth
  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 1 lb sausages, halved and sliced 1/2 in. thick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 lb boneless pork butt roast, cut into 1-1/2 in. pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, saute the bacon over medium-high heat till crispy, about 5-10 minutes. Add the onions, tomato paste, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cook till the onions are softened and beginning to brown, 10 or so minutes.

Meanwhile, put sausages, bay leaves and broth in the slow cooker. Add the onion-bacon mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5-7 hours on high (took us about 5) or 9-11 hours on low, till meat is tender and beans are done. Adjust seasoning if necessary, then serve over rice and with Brazilian hot sauce (recipe below).

Brazilian Hot Sauce (makes about 3 cups)

This was good, though I may add a bit more jalapeno/include a bit of pith and seed next time.
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (seeds and white pith removed if you're inclined)
  • 1/3 c white wine vinegar
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1T cilantro (used 1/4c parsley)
  • 1/2 t salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes, till flavors have melded.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lengua Estofada

Lengua was always one of my favorite childhood dishes - my lola used to put extra button mushrooms in it for me. Finally I decided to try my own version of it - not a recreation of the beefy richness I remember, but something to tweak and turn into an occasional indulgence. I started from a recipe in Let's Cook with Nora, and made several changes - most notably trebling the amount of mushrooms (what? I love them). It turned out wonderfully - the meat was tender, the sauce (more of a broth by thickness) rich and tangy but sweet from the carrots and leeks. I may try a more umami-laden version in the future, but this recipe is a keeper.

Since this is the first time I've ever tried this (and since I had an epic, 20-minute battle with the leathery outer coating of the tongue), I've felt obliged to document (and share said documentation of) the process.
  • 1 beef tongue (2.6 lbs. or so)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1-2 T salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
  • 1 t peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 2 carrots, cut into rough chunks
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, including juice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cup water
  • 3-4 cups mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed (used a mix of white and cremini)
Here are most of the assembled ingredients.

Rub tongue with salt and vinegar (pre-boiled tongue below - doesn't look very different after this step). Rinse, then boil for 10 minutes.

Scrape off leathery coating on surface. (Mind, this took me 20 minutes with three different knives. It got pretty gnarly in the end, but I triumphed. It probably would have been much easier if I'd boiled the tongue for the whole time first, but I wanted it to braise with the sauce.)

Brown tongue in oil (5-10 minutes.)

Transfer to plate, then brown the onions and the garlic.

Return tongue to pot, then add everything but the mushrooms. (I may try adding less water next time.) Bring to a boil then simmer gently till the tongue is tender (recipes say three hours, it took me more like four).

Slice tongue into pieces and set aside (when I gave John a taste at this point, he said it was just like brisket or pot roast).

Strain sauce (skipped this step). Add mushrooms; turn heat to medium or high and cook for a few minutes, till sauce is reduced and mushrooms are done. Return tongue to pot and warm through. 

Serve with rice and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!