Well, I’m back - at least for another year. It has been a long time since I have been out here blogging or keeping up with everyone’s captivating work. I apologize to my blogging buds and I promise to do better.
I haven’t any stories of woe or melancholy to attempt to sugarcoat why I haven’t been here. It is really pretty simple: blogging is hard work! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Many kudos to those you who blog regularly. For me, keeping up with my blog became more like work than a hobby. Maybe some of you can relate. I write this with the grand assumption that someone is actually still out there reading. Aren’t I a presumptuous tool? Well, I have to do better. I do cook, all the time, so I just have to keep motivated to share some of the good stuff. Maybe some of the bad stuff as well.
But, really though, I missed this. A LOT! I love to cook and I love reading what everyone else is doing. So here I am, again, at least for another year to bring you what I got and to consume what ya’ll got. Fair enough?
As most of us across the country know, this has been a wicked, wicked, cold and overly wet winter. Cold weather is, for me, a great time for cooking. I love to braise, make stock, soups, and of course, nothing beats a bowl of chili when the wind is blowing, snow is drifting about, and the temperature is dipping.
Chili is one of those things that is quite personal as well as regional. Some people like their chili with ground meat and beans, some like just beans, some with meat - not ground - and no beans, and on and on… You get the idea; its personal. Hell, some folks in a certain region put chili over pasta! Sorry, I draw the line there. No offense.
The wife found a recipe in one of our food rags for black bean chili with sweet potato. I thought, hmm, that sounds delicious. I didn’t actually read the recipe. I just kinda threw it together. This was a very enjoyable pot of chili. I’ll need to keep the sweet potato out until the last 30 minutes or so next time so that they keep their texture and don’t become squishy. They actually added some serious body to the chili along with their natural sweetness countering the chipotle. I actually think I may add a diced sweet potato to my next pot of regular chili for the body and sweetness alone.
I chose lamb for this pot as opposed to beef because, well since they were, it was… I just put lamb in it. I found some lamb shoulder chops at Whole Paychex and snatched up a pound of ground lamb. We really like the two textures of the ground and the not-ground. Can someone help me out here? What do we call not-gound meat?
Those beans you see above are the wonderfully delicious Rancho Gordo beans. Those are the appropriately named snow caps. They, as are all the RG beans, in a word, perfect!
This pot was a success. I served it up with some nice skillet jalapeno cheddar cornbread. It still needs some tweaking for next time. And next time will probably be next week, as soon as my next batch of RG beans arrives.
Recipe after the jump…
The fact is that I couldn’t verify that this was actual Mexican chocolate. The article from the August 2010 Bon Appetit suggested that it was the combination of chocolate and cinnamon yielding the Mexican flavor. Okay. If they say so. It tasted good no matter what it’s called. The creamy layer of orange scented meringue atop the creamy homemade chocolate ice cream, all settled on a chocolate cinnamon brownie was as euphoric as an obscure reference to something extremely euphoric of which I currently cannot think. Every mouthful was just decadently luscious.
When I was a youngin’, I always had some crazy affinity for ice cream cake. I think because ice cream cake was had so infrequently that whenever it made an appearance, I too had to make an appearance. Not much has changed there. I still remember when we got our first Carvel. It wasn’t in our neighborhood, but it was close enough. We really didn’t have much from there very often, but we got to ride by it occasionally. And I knew what was in there! I would wake from a deep on-the-road-home-from-grandma’s sleep as we approached the storefront from the not-so-silly-then happy feelings. Just given the opportunity, I was going to stick my spoon into something!
This treat takes textures to another level. I mean there was really a whole lot going on, but when you work from top to bottom with your utensil, ultimately all of the flavors worked together. So putting the prep time in paid off. I love when that happens.
There was the issue of the brownie. My first thought after reading the recipe was that the brownie was going to be rock hard. It wasn’t really too bad. I undercooked the brownie just a bit in an effort to prevent rockafication. It was more hard to cut than to eat. Eating it was chewy in a delicious way. Cutting through it took some skill and agility - at one point I almost wore a slice. I think I may have been deducted a couple of cool points, but I did mange to recover.
Head on over here for the recipe and if you make it, I want to know.
Behold! Creamy pasta with no cream and plenty of flavor. I know that I am hardly the first to come up with something like this; I am not that boneheaded, but man was I sure proud when I took the first bite of this dish. I mean it. ‘Course, I was hungry, too.
You know how you come up with that brilliant (well you think it is) idea for a meal? You put all the players in place, think all the right thoughts, cook until your neighbors nostrils flair, plate the concept so sportingly that you have secret thoughts of wishing Thomas Keller were sitting in wait for your plate. Then you take the first bite of your dish and find it tastes like what a subway station stairwell smells like in hot-ass August! Well, this was not that dish. Don’t get me wrong, this is not complicated or sophisticated at all; although this would prrobably be the overall winning dish on this year’s sorry Hell’s Kitchen. It just worked out really nicely from concept to forkful finale.
None of y’all needs me to tell you about the eat-whatever-is-in-the-fridge day. This was one of those days. A little of this, a bit of that…boom! Dinner. There is no recipe, per se, for this dish. What transpired was, me grabbing some leeks, asparagus, a bell pepper, portobellos, chicken breast, some skrimps, and grilling them. Then I stirred together some garlic confit, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, S&P, and 2% Greek yogurt. While tossing the whole wheat pasta and vegg, I added a handful (read: the bottom of the frozen bag) of green peas along with just enough pasta water to create the creamy consistency. Surprise, surprise; tasty, healthy, creamy, quick, and easy.
We can discuss the garlic confit next time I make it. If you don’t know, it’s from Keller, and it’s good!
I could eat grilled asparagus spritzed with lemon forever!
That’s a mouthful isn’t it? And I had several. That serving glass used to be my wine glass. There is a reason that I no longer use that glass - it holds way to much of a good thing. I mean, it is a very healthy indulgence; it has blueberries, which are high in antioxidants and other healthy stuff, and it has, um…um…eggs and um…some lemon and some orange. See, healthy! Never mind about the butter, sugar, cream, cheese, and deliciousness. This is a dessert for crying out loud!
Oh yeah, it also has cookies. But they’re just for texture!
I get these afternoon cravings for Oreos. I don’t know what it is, but it usually is Reese cups, but now, Oreos. These cookies, just a few, put that craving to rest. With the shortbread texture and that hint of orange, I can go on like a five year old with a cup of red Kool-Aid.
Usually the wife is the baker, but this was a team effort. I will admit, there are some steps to this recipe that take some time, but it is well worth it.
Recipe after the jump…
Pronounced /por’ket:a/ (or sometimes “porketta"). If you are a “POP", that would be a “pal of pork” then porchetta is just plain delicious! Well, please allow me to write freely here for a minute. This post, and any and all subsequent, were surely not to make it here. I had made the decision. I was shutting the kitchen (the virtual one) down. One day I logged on to my site and I got an database error. For no apparent reason. This site was up and running just the night before. So I troubleshot. Then I was overcome with frustration because the protections put in place to avert hacking kept locking me out via my IP every time I attempted to fix the issue. Oh, you don’t know how I wanted to crawl through the 22 inch monitor and do things to the hosting support person that would involve sharp objects, projectiles, and a small amount (not greedy) of C4. After much consideration, I had decided that I was packing it in. Then, just for shits and giggles, I log to my site. It comes up! WTF? So… I think I’ll keep the site at least until my hosting runs out and then I will soul search to see if I want to keep it going. I really do enjoy sharing my cooking experiences with you. In the meantime, I’ll share my porchetta with you all, how’s that?