Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Austin Trip

We took a trip down to Austin the day after Christmas to see the grand parents. It was nice trip and the babies came out with a ton of schwag.

Grandpa and Beck working the tow truck

Grandpa and Ella (aka "What ever she wants") sharing smiles.

Sweet girl and a snowman

The first girl in 51 years in our family gets a lot of attention

My dad and his mom.

Ella taking a ride on great granny's scooter

Grandma and her lil buddy

He is stuck on full speed ahead an his dial goes
all the way up to 11.

Me and my boy.

A chilly day at Barton Springs.

My sweet snaggle tooth.

No trip is complete with out an obligatory stop at
our favorite watering hole.

Mmm...Mexican Martini with Sauza Tres Gen
and Cointreau. Perfection.
I really enjoyed the juxtaposition on this one.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto

This is pretty much a winter staple at our house. Add panchetta or chicken if you like.

3 boxes of chicken or veggie stock/broth
2-3 cups of Aborio rice or Carnaroli if you can find it
1 Medium onion diced
1 shallot diced
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
White pepper
Bay leaf
1 Medium butternut squash
Blackstrap molasses
White corn syrup

Peel the squash and cut off the ends. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut into 1/2" cubes and toss in a stoneware dish or glass casserole dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and corn syrup and drizzle with molasses. Dust a little paprika on top and toss until well incorporated. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until soft when poked with a toothpick.

Empty your stock/broth into a sauce pan and heat until it is just steaming. Dice up your onion, shallot, and garlic. Sautee in olive oil with the bay leaf until soft and translucent. *This Step Is Important so DO NOT SKIP IT* Add the rice and mix until the grains are coated with oil. Let this toast for a minute or two. This will help release the starches in the grain and make it more creamy. Slowly ladle stock until the rice is covered. Begin stirring and do not stop. Ever. Even if your wife is in labor. Continue to add stock as the rice soaks it up. You will know the rice is getting close to done when while you are stirring you can no longer feel individual grains hitting the spoon or spatula. Once the grains are soft through the center turn the heat down and add the squash.

Remove from the heat and grate some Parmesean or Peccerino on top. You can add sage leaves or vanilla bean to add different flavors.


Thanks Santa

The three things that will not leave my stove until April. Thanks for the new cast iron grill pan Grace and HC

Potato Leek Soup

I did this the other day and only used 1/2 cup of cream. It could have been totally omitted and it still would have come out yummy and creamy.

4-5lbs of russet or creamers peeled
Chicken or veggie broth
1 large bunch of leeks
1 medium onion
1 medium shallot
3 cloves of garlic
3 table spoons of butter
2 bay leaves

Peel and cut your potatoes into 1/2 " cubes. Put them in a stock pot or dutch over and add just enough broth to cover them. Bring to a boil and the turn down to a medium simmer and cook until soft. Cut the bottom off of the leeks and cut in half length wise (top to bottom). Soak and separate in cool water to get rid of any remaining dirt. Cut them into a small dice from the bottom to about half way up the green part. Cut your onion, shallot, and garlic into a small dice.

Strain the potatoes making sure to reserve the cooking liquid. return your pot to the fire and add the butter, leeks, onion, shallot, garlic, and bay leaf. Sautee until limp and translucent. Return the potatoes and all but about 2 cups of the broth. Let this cook together for 20 mins stirring occasionally. Now you need to puree. You can work this in batches in your food processor on use and immersion/stick blender. If you use either of theses tools be sure and remove the bay leaf prior to pureeing. Or you can grab and old school whisk and get a good forearm work out which is what I did since I forgot to charge my stick blender.

Give it a good working over adding the reserved cooking liquid if it gets a little tight. This is when you can add the cream if you like or go without. There is enough residual starch from the potatoes to thicken it up. Garnish with chives or scallions and some crumbled bacon. A healthy dose of Parmesean run through a Microplane grater is also a good idea.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Corn and Potatoe Chowder (With or w/out ham

The wifey has been a little under the weather and requested some soup. This is a quick one that I put together for her.

3 cans of cream style corn
1 medium onion
1 shallot
3 cloves of garlic
6 strips of bacon
4 medium potatoes
1 Box of chicken stock
1 pint of heavy cream
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 cups of Guryer or Cheddar cheese and 1-2 pounds of cubed ham (optional)

Cook you bacon until crispy and let rest on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve the drippings. Cut you onion and shallot into a small dice. For the potatoes, to peel or not to peel, that is your choice. Cut them into decent size pieces. Crush up the cloves of garlic. Add the bacon drippings to a warm cast iron dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup/stock pot. Sautee the aromatics until soft adding the white pepper and salt to taste. Once they are soft and translucent add a splash of the stock to deglaze the pan. Add the corn, potatoes, cream, ham if desired and stock.

Simmer this covered for an hour or so. Remove the lid and check for consistency. If it is a little thin let it simmer for 30 mins or so uncovered. You can always add a slurry of Guar gum or cornstarch if you like. Crumble up the bacon and add it at the end. For some extra flavor throw a cup or two of Guryer or Cheddar cheese in at the end. Diced chives or green onions make a nice garnish for this and some warm cibatta rolls or crusty rustic bread for dipping.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do try this at home

Don't be scared. No family members or eyebrows were injured during this process.

Deglazing is fun and knowing that the flare up is actually a really cool flame should give some sense of relief. I started tonight with a case of culinary block. I had no idea what to make for dinner. Watching an episode of Top Chef can nip that in the bud. The episode about Pig and Pinots gave me something to go with. We ended up with roasted pork tenderloin and broccoli with Bouchant and garlic mashers and a Chardonnay sage reduction. It really bugs me how complicated that all sounds considering how easy it is.

I peeled and cubed up some potatoes and boiled them in salted water with a splash of vinegar. At the same time I steamed some broccoli and the removed to an ice bath when they were starting to get tender. Actually I went a little too far with the broccoli because I was trying to put a pair of toddlers to bed at the same time.

I diced up an onion, shallot, and a few cloves of garlic and sautéed them in olive oil in a skillet large enough to handle my tenderloins. I added a little salt and pepper during this process. Once the onions were translucent I added a good pour of Bouchant and deglazed the pan. Fireworks!

Once the flames died down I scooped out the aromatics and tossed in the pork. Let these babies rest for a while to carmalize on the outside. Flip once they are nice and brown, insert a meat thermometer into thickest one and put the pan into the oven at 350. Let these roast for 8-10 minutes.

Toss the drained broccoli with some salt, pepper, olive oil, and a spoon full or two of the onion/garlic/shallot mix. Spread on to a baking sheet and drop on to a rack below the pork.

Crap! Taters. These should have been strained and put into a mixing bowl. Add 1/2 stick of butter, 2 big spoons of sour cream, 1/2 cup of milk, a couple of table spoons of the sautéed onions, salt and pepper. Mash and set aside.

Once the pork hits 155-165 internal temp pull the pan out. Place to tenderloin on a cutting board under a tent of foil to rest. Put the pan back on the burned cranked up to high. Duct tape a towel around your non-dominate hand because I have grabbed a pan handle that just came out of the oven more than once. This would be fortunate in the event that I needed to be finger printed because I don't think I have any prints left. Add the remaining onion mix to the pan until it is sizzling pretty good. Add 1 cup of white wine to deglaze and scrape the bottom of the pan to ge the fond off.

Let this mess reduce to about 1/2 the original volume and remove from the heat. Add a 1/2 stick of butter cut into small cubes and slowly stir until completely melted and incorporated. I like to puree this with a hand blender until smooth.

Slice the pork into medallions, drop some potatoes and broccoli on the plate and add the sauce. Viola. Tired and buzzed is not the best blogging combo but I am sure I will return to edit this tomorrow. Just trying to keep it regular.

Out of focus Bouchant. My favorite less expensive orange liquor. Save the Grand Mariner and Cointreau for margaritas.

Deglazing while talking on the phone. True multi-tasking.

Pretty pork cleaned and ready to go.

Proper browning. Don't touch it for at least 5 minutes after you put it in.

Finished product.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Vemon, she is soooo good.

I picked up a bottle of wine on chili day that I have not seen in quite a while. This puppy is pretty hard to find especially in a retail outlet. It is so top secret Seghesio doesn't even have it on its web site. It is the "Venom."

Seghesio has long been known as a prime producer of Zinfandel. While I appreciate their efforts, Zin is not one of my favorite grapes. Their work with Sangiovese is what I really enjoy. It seems that GrandPa Seghesio planted some vines from his native land back in 1910. While I am sure he was making some kick ass "Chianti Americano" prohibition pretty much put a stop to that. In wines resurgence Sangiovese was not exactly on chic list here in the states. Heck, most people didn't even know what was in those funny wicker lined bottles served in those mom and pop Italian food restaurants. Well, thanks to the new Super Tuscans and odd balls like me Sangiovese is now being not only appreciated but celebrated. About friggin' time you Johnny-come-lateleys.

This wine is elegance and finesse backed up with some serious fruit and a Megan Fox'esque sexy finish. The bright fruit nose picks up right as you open the bottle. It has a beautiful light red color very reminiscent of a good Dolcetto d'alba but with much more backbone. I wouldn't say it is as feminine as a Barbaresco but this ain't gonna go head to head with a cab. It is 100% Sangiovese so it is a true expression of the grape and the land. I have had a few sexy Spainards like this as well but they are few and far between. I hesitate to tell you the location for fear that you might head out and buy all of the remaining stock before my kidney extraction and sale is completed this weekend.

All in all this has to be one of the best $40 bottles of wine I have ever had. It is hard to find retail but if you do, pick up a case or three. And if you do feel free to invite me over for dinner. I promise to cook a meal that will revolve entirely around the wine.

Happy drinking!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chili Time!

When the mercury dips into the 50s and football season is in full swing I start to get a hankering. Nothing says fall like a good pot of chili con carne. My wife made the suggestion on the way home today and I was happy to obliged. There are a thousand ways to skin a cat and make a pot of chili. I in no way claim to have a blue ribbon recipe or am an authority but I have learned a few things from trial and error. Here is my contribution which come with the usual disclaimer of; I rarely measure and scarcely use scripted recipes.

The meat is the most important thing. Today I used beef chuck, pork shoulder (boston butt), and some ground buffalo. In the past I have included venison, antelope, goat, turkey, lamb, moose, or any other flesh that can be obtained. They all add their own interesting characteristics and flavors that can add depth and character to your creation. You can buy chili meat from you local grocery store which is little more than ground beef scraps pushed through a different die. I choose to make my own so that I can control the composition and texture.

There is a requisite amount of fat required, since after all fat is flavor. The good thing about making your own chili meat is that you can control this like an OCD kid sorting legos. I am a big fan of beef chuck for the base. It is easy to find and usually has an 80/20 lean to fat composition. I like to add some pork shoulder for lightness and texture, and the buffalo just happened to be available. Stick with the beef if you want to keep it simple.

3/4 pound of beef chuck and pork shoulder and 1/2 pound of Buffalo.

First cut up your meat into 1" cubes. Don't be too fussy since it is all gonna be chopped up next.

Drop a few pieces at a time into your food processor with the standard chopping blade. Pulse 8-10 times to get the desired consistency. Remove and start another batch.

This is what you are looking for. Not completely ground. Texture is good.

Brown the meat in small batches in a heavy bottomed pot or enameled dutch oven with some canola oil, salt, and pepper. Notice all the yummy brown goodness on the bottom. That is called fond. It makes everything taste better. We will deal with that later. Remove and let the meat drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add your aromatics. This is 1 large white onion, 1 large shallot, and 5-6 cloves of fresh garlic. a rough chop or dice is fine. Add salt and pepper and cook until translucent which should be 8-10 minutes.

Once your onions and such are cooked down add at least 1/2 bottle of red wine. The majority of my cooking liquid is wine or beer since water really adds no flavor and instead becomes a simple medium to cook in. Make sure and scrape all of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a flat head wooden spoon or spatula.

This is where you start adding your spices and such. I have previously blogged about my favorite, but that is certainly left to your own personal interpretation. Yeah, most purists would go and hunt and gather their own ingredients but I leave that to food anthropologists and budding sociopaths. My personal fav asks for some crushed tomatoes and water but of course I deviate. A can or two of crushed tomatoes is great but remember to drain the juice. I also add a can of tomato sauce, a can of tomato paste, 2 bay leaves, the zest of 1/2 lemon and the juice of a whole lemon. A splash of apple cider vinegar and a spoon full of brown sugar is always appreciated. Return the meat to the pot and add enough wine or water to ensure that all the goodies are floating.

Bring this whole mess to a simmer and the cover and turn down the heat to LOW. Grab half of your six pack or another bottle of wine and go catch at least 2 hours of a game or some home improvement shows. Come back later and check your creation. If it is a little thin leave the lid off for a few. If you insist on thickening it with assistance I recommend using Guar Gum. It has 8x the thickening power of corn starch and is very flavor neutral.

Remove from the heat and get your fixings ready. I am a fan of Fritos, corn bread, sharp cheddar cheese, diced onion, cilantro, and sour cream.

Pick your poison and you are good to go.

Peace be to you that has a steaming bowl of chili and a team that has a chance of making the play offs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Choice

Most cooks will tell you that your meal is only worth the salt you use. While I am a fan of the fancy grey and pink salts out there, my workhorse will always be coarse kosher salt. Learning to use it is a it of a curve if you have always used that fine grained iodized version. You will need to up the amount by about half since the larger crystals means less salt by volume. It lacks that "tinny" taste the comes from the iodination. The pleasant crunch adds a nice texture when sprinkled on a steak. And heck, it is easier to "pinch and toss into your pot making you look like a true pro.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chicken and cous cous goodness

This is a nice light lunch dinner I put together for the ladies for lunch one day. You can switch the cous cous with brown rice to make it south beach friendly.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts.
2 boxes of preferred cous cous
2 cucumbers
2 tomatoes
flat leaf Italian parsley
1 lemon
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 bulb or shallot minced
1 tsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp of salt

I prefer to pound out the chicken breasts paillard style in a large ziploc bag to a uniform thickness. This promotes quick and even cooking and keeps it from drying out. Add salt and pepper and grill our sautee over med high heat for about 3 mins per side. I really like using my George Foreman grill for this since it cuts the time in half and you loose some of the fat. Remove and let rest. Cook your couscous and let sit for a bit.

Quarter the cucumbers length wise and cut out the majority of the seeds. Cut into 1/4 in pieces. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Chop up a cup of parsley.
Fluff the cous cous and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, garlic and parsley. Add the zest of half of the lemon and the juice from the whole lemon. Add the olive oil and toss together. Salt and pepper to taste. This is good warm or as a chilled salad. My other recommendation for this would be to add a 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and some dill to make it a little richer.

Ancho roasted pork shoulder

I have done this one a couple of times now with great results. I would have to reccomend choosing a boneless cut since it tends to cook more evenly. Please take the time to seek out a pork shoulder, AKA boston butt. It is not too hard to find but not every major chain has them readily available. This is a great recipe that can be served as a roast or shredded and used as carnitas for tacos or rellenos.

4-7 lb boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
6 dried chiles. I prefer a mix of Ancho, New Mexico, and Pasillla
Canola, olive (not extra virgin), or grapeseed oil.
2 cloves of garlic smashed and diced
1 onion chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
a dozen fennel seeds
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey
2 cups of white wine
salt and pepper

Bring a medium size sauce pan or water to a boil and then remove from the heat. Add the dried chiles and submerge with a plate, steamer basket, or what ever you can find that will fit in the pan and keep them under the water. Let them steep for 15 minutes. I recommend leaving your pork out for an hour or two to get close to room temperature. Please don't freak out about this since a.) most pork is raised and slaughtered in environments that are cleaner than the average hospital and b.) you will be cooking this long and thoroughly enough to kill and cooties that may be present. Trim the larger portions of fat off of the shoulder but do not go completely crazy and try and perform full liposuction on it. After all the flavor is in the fat. Add enough oil to just cover the bottom or a dutch oven or large stock pot on Med high heat. If you do not have an enameled cast iron dutch oven please let me suggest this one. It is $100 less that that fancy pants french brand and performs just as well. You will get miles and miles out of this piece of equipment. Liberally salt and pepper the shoulder and brown on all sides. Remove the meat and place on a platter. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sautee until the onion is translucent about 6-8 minutes. Add one cup of the wine to deglaze and turn the heat to low for a few minutes. Make sure and scape the bottom of the pot to remove any yummy brown bits that may still be stuck there. Pour the contents into your food processor or blender.

Remove the chiles from the water and remove stems. Rinse them under cool water to wash out the seeds. You don't have to be too OCD about this since any remaining seed will only add a little pop. Add the chiles and remaining ingredients to you food processor and hit the go button. Slowly drizzle in approx 1/2 cup of oil until you have a smooth consistency.

Cut a few random 1/2 inch slits in the shoulder and then coat the outside or the pork with the puree. Put the meat back in the pot and add any remaining puree and the other cup of wine. Make sure the liquid is about an inch deep around the meat. Put the lid on and pop into a 275 degree oven for at least 3 hrs. Grab a couple of beers and watch some TV, hit Facebook, or fold those stacks of laundry that have been there all week.

After three hours you should be able to pull the meat apart with a fork. Remove the meat and let is rest on a platter covered with foil for 15 mins. You can skim the fat off the top of the remaining liquid and reduce down to make a kick ass sauce. Slice the like a roast or shred it with a couple of forks and serve with some beans, rice, and tortillas.

You can always add a 1/2 tsp of Cayenne or chipolte powder to get some more BAM! if you like. As always please let me know if you have any questions or if the were any omissions or confusion.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Clay Pot Coconut Curry Beef

You can swing this with lamb as well. Did this for The Devine Dinner. This was my first time slow cooking with curry but it turned out great. You can do this in a enamled cast iron Dutch over, heavy pot, or slow cooker/crock pot if you like. If you use a clay pot be sure to soak it for at least 15 minutes in cool water before using.

2lbs of Beef Chuck or Lamb leg/shoulder
2 cans of coconut milk
1 cup of white wine
Regular plain yogurt
3 lemons
1 yellow onion
Red and yellow bell peppers
Punjab curry powder
Ground mustard
Bay Leaf
Olive oil

Rub your meat with salt and pepper and drop it into a gallon size Ziploc storage bag. Add one can of coconut milk, a cup of yogurt, the zest of one lemon, a table spoon of the curry powder and a couple of table spoons of olive oil. Seal it and shake to combine. Allow this to marinate in the fridge for at least six hours but better if it is over night.

Take out the meat and let is rest for an hour or so to come up to room temp. Save the marinade liquid. Brown the meat in a heavy pot or dutch oven with olive oil over medium heat. Be careful not to get it to hot and watch carefully because the sugar in the coconut milk and yogurt will blacken and get bitter. Remove the meat and set aside. Chop your onion , peppers, shallot, and garlic and add to the pot till the veggies are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste as they cook. Toss in some roughly chopped or torn mint at the end. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the veggies to the clay pot. Set the meat on top of them and add the bay leaf, some whole pepper corns, ground mustard, and the marinade liquid and the juice of a lemon. Add more coconut milk so that the meat is covered about half way up. Put the clay pot in a COLD (do not pre-heat your over if using caly ware lest you want it to crack and spill your goods all over the bottom) and turn it to 350. Spend the next 4 hours napping, checking facebook updates, or watching a sporting event. Remove and fork test the meat. It should fall apart wit a stern look or light poke. Enjoy.

If you don't have a clay pot you can do it in a dutch oven at 350 for the same ammount of time or stove top in a heavy pot over low heat for 2-3 hours. Keep an eye on the stove pot method and make sure you don't lose too much liquid through reduction.

As always let me know if i left anything out or if you have questions. Such is the madness of cooking from the hip and not having/using recipes.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday is steak day

We invited the grandparents over for Sunday dinner to see the babies and such. We originally planned a low key burger and chips dinner but the Wine Guy at Market Street quickly derailed that plan for me.

Wine Guy: Hey there, whats going on?

Me: Aww, not much. Having the grandparents over for dinner so I came to pick up some burgers and chips.

Wine Guy: Don't do burgers?

Me: *eyebrow raised* Really? Why? (how dare he question my dinner plan)

Wine Guy: They have T-bones on sale for $1.99/lb.

Me: No way! (Pavlovian tail wagging begins)

Wine Guy: But they are out. *sly smile*

Me: Huh? (roughly translated to "Asshole...don't play me like that!")

Wine Guy: So instead they switched to NY Strips.

Me: Ok. I can deal with that. (Not my favorite cut but still worth the price and I can grind the rest)

Wine Guy: But they ran out of those too.

Me: Seriously? (restraining myself from kicking him in the Jimmy)

Wine Guy: But I heard they sent a guy to the store in McKinney to pick up some Ribeyes.

Me: Ohhh... (almost sharting myself because Ribeye is on my "last meal" menu) I can deal with that.

So I quickly plowed through a family of four and knocked over an end cap of peanuts and preperation H to get to the coffin fridges. There were three packs of beautifully marbled six packs of steaks none of which exceeded $18. Glory be! I was a happy man. I had to back track through the produce section for spinach and taters and of course revisit the Wine Guy to let him schlep some of his spirits to me. Either way Beck and I managed quick and successful shopping trip and returned to surprise the family with a gorgeous upgrade from the expected dinner of sliders and crisps.

Steak, blessed steak!

Spinach on the Sautee

Yummy baby bellas being sweated.

Pascual Toso and Mother's Milk for drinking

Grilled Ribeye steak with mushroom shallot red wine reduction, chive and garlic masher and sauteed spinach. Mangia!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

For Caroline...Brulee recipe

  • 1 large egg
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup for the berries.
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur (Grand Marnier or Bouchant
  • Juice of one lemon

Add the berries, sugar and lemon juice to a bowl and toss to combine. Let sit for at least 2 hours.

Slowly combine the egg, yolks, and sugar in your mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed. You can do this by hand with a whisk just to be too aggressive. After the yolks lighten in color a bit slowly add the cream in a slow steady stream. Add the vanilla and almond. Add berries to ramekins or stoneware dish and pour the custard over them.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 325, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch or benz0matic (my favorite) until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Dinner for the Devine.

As I mentioned yesterday I had the privileged of making dinner for a special friend of ours and her family. The circumstances leading to this were not the best but all things considered I wanted to try and give them a few moments to focus on something different. This was never an attempt to one up anybody in the rotation, this is just what I like to do. Feed me with your friendship and wisdom and I will feed you from my soul. The menu was as follows:

Coconut milk and curry roasted beef shoulder with onion, fennel,
and peppers done in a clay pot.

Shitake mushroom and fig quinoa with sage and thyme

Not pictured were some roasted pears and a dandelion and radish greens salad
with lardons and a warm bacon shallot vinaigrette

A macerated berry creme brulee with vanilla
and Bouchant

The little Devine's enjoyed a baked ziti with herbed chicken
and spinach and some cookie brownie bars.

I am hoping it gets rave reviews. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a day in the kitchen cooking for others. Some of these were new recipes. This was also my first attempt at making a dessert without assistance from Mr. Heins or Ms. Crocker.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Austin Trip

Sorry about the absence. We had some sick cranky babies and the went dow n to Austin to see the Grandparents. We had a great time and got to hit some of our favorite spots. We started with lunch at Trudy's. It is almost obligatory to have a margarita or Mexican martini while there. We went out that night to see if it would really be that bad considering it was the closing weekend for SXSW. It was worse. We were going to see Dexter Freebish at the Saxon Pub but parking was a bitch. We loved the stares we got pulling up in a mini van. C'mon people. Parents gotta rock out too. We bailed on downtown since Vespaio and Gueros we packed. We decided to head for the lake and had drinks at the Hula Hut. After that we hit Slick Willie's to play some pool. Who knew my wife had some mad skills. Mad enough to win 2 of the 7 games. Good times.

We really enjoyed our time there. Since the weather was nice we took the parents to Iguana Grill to enjoy the view and some more margaritas. We got some great pics of the family. Next time we are going to head back ot Cafe Blue. This is the location but not the original incarnation of a place built and opened by a buddy named Jeff Currington and his buddy Van. It is built on the lake below the flood plane. The used cocnrete, stainless steel, and teak for the construction and sealed the electrical system so then when it flodded they could take all the equipment out. and then come back and hose it down and reopen.

Tomorrow I get the privilidge of cooking for a good friend who's dad is in the hospital. I am planning a nice clay pot roast with curry and coconut, mushroom and fig quinoa, a dandelion and radish salad with a warm bacon shallot vinagrette, and a macerated berry brulee. I am also doing a nice baked ziti for the kiddos. I will let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Holy Spit!

I solemnly swear that at some point this year I will spit roast a whole pig and we shall have a kick ass Luau! Not sure where. Not sure when. But I will keep you posted. Thanks for the inspiration Grocery Guy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My Choice

My mom picked up a pack of Tuldy's chili seasoning and enjoyed it. She was kind enough to bring some up to me and I was an instant convert. The combine the perfect level of spice, smoke, and richness. The recipe is simple and you can customize it how you like. Their tortilla soup mix is kick ass as well. I have not found a retailer in the DFW area yet so I stock up on our trips to Austin. They also sell online.

Achiote and Chile Pasilla Marinated Chicken Roulade

Per your requests. This was inspired by a dish I had 12 years ago from a restaurant named Xena in Austin. Unfortunately it was well ahead of its time and closed. The chicken was breaded and baked but the avocado sauce was what set it apart.


Rehydrated 4 or 5 dried chiles in water just off the boil. I used Pasilla and New Mexico for this one but you could use Arbol, Cascabel, or even Chipolte if you like. Once they have softened remove the stems and split them and discard the seeds. I bought and ground whole Annatto seeds for the achiote. I recommend buying your achiote already ground because this was a heck of an ordeal. They do not give it up easily.

Combine the chiles and achiote powder in a food processor with some vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, minced garlic, lemon zest and honey. Blend it until completely incorporated. Set aside.


Butterfly boneless skinless breasts and pound out with a mallet until they are about 1/8th of an inch thick. I usually do this in a large ziploc storage bag with a little oil in it to contain the mess. The oil helps prevent the chicken from tearing apart when pounding.

Put the breasts in a bowl or ziploc bag with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

After allowing the chicken to rest don some latex gloves and lay it out on a work surface covered with plastic wrap. Achiote is commonly used as a food dye and for makeup. It will stain your skin and surfaces if exposed for a period of time. Lay down slices of Manchego, thinly sliced panchetta or seranno ham that has been browned in a saute pan (put this pan aside and don't discard the rendered fat from the ham), and sage leaves on one side of the breast. roll the breasts up and remember to tuck the ends into contain the cheese. Secure with toothpicks. Set aside.

Roasted Corn Salsa-

Soak 4-5 whole ears of corn for 10-15 minutes. Toss on the grill for 12-15 minutes turning occasionally. The outsides will char but don't worry. Remove the husks and silk. Cut off the end where the husk is and stand on end. Run your knife down the sides and remove the kernels.

Peel and grate one bulb of Jicima. Dice a red and green bell pepper, 1/2 onion, shallot, and garlic. Add this to a large bowl with the corn and toss with the juice of one lime, one blood or regular orange, some chopped cilantro and a couple table spoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside

Mashed potatoes.

Peel some white or creamer potatoes and boil in salted water until soft. Strain and set aside. Saute one diced onion, shallot and garlic in the pan previously used for browning the ham. Add a little oil if needed and salt and pepper. Cook this down for 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft. Increase the heat and add 1/2 cup of Bouchant, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier. Hold a lit match over the pan to ignite and burn off the vapors. If you cook on gas just tilt the pan and it should flare up. If you get nervous about the flames keep a lid close and simply cover the pan to put it out. Make sure all your friends are around for the show of course. After the liquid has reduced add this to the potatoes with 1/2 stick of butter, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of heavy cream 1 tsp of ground mustard and 3 table spoons of horseradish. Mash this all together and a salt to taste.

Avocado Sauce-

Split and scoop out 5-6 avocados. Roughly chop or smash them up. Add to a saute pan with 3 gloves of minced garlic, 1 cup of cream, 1/2 stick of butter. Heat until just warmed through and transfer to a blender. Add a few sprigs of cilantro and some salt. Turn on and puree slowly adding 1/2 cup of olive oil and salt. If the sauce is still a little tight slowly add warm water to get the desired consistency.

Final prep-

Grill the chicken and remove when cooked through. Remove the tootpicks and slice into medalions. Put a spoonful of potatoes in the center of the plate and ladle the sauce around the rest of the plate. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and drop some corn salsa on top. Enjoy!

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Choice

Every cook has his workhorses. You 10 inch sautee pan, your bag o' magic spices, and of course your knife. I received my first Global for Christmas 9 years ago. I dropped it on my bare foot the first time I used it and almost severed the tendon to my big toe. Since then it has served me well and cut me very rarely. It is lighter and less fatiguing than my heavier Henckels and Wusthoffs and the balance is great. The handle provides great grip even though it is all metal. And the 5 degree blade angle makes a real difference.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Choice

The pungently aromatic bitter cherry goodness that is Campari. I am not sure when I first had one but I know it was a hot Texas summer day. I'll take it with soda and a lime on the rocks or in a Negroni. My affinity for bitter, sour, and salty puts this right up my alley. Now I need to figure out how to use it in cooking.

I have been asked for recipes before and while I will happily divulge to you every ingredient and technique used on thing I cannot do is tell you how much. Not that this is proprietary information or my way of keeping things to myself. I always have and always will cook by feel. With the exception making sure my 2:1 ratio of water and rice is right on, I never use measuring instruments. This is the reason I don't bake as well. Way to tedious.

Below is a snapshot of one of my menus with the "recipes." It is more a list of ingredients to keep my on track and keep me from accidentally omitting something in the event I have a couple of glasses of wine during preparation.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Supper Club Recap

Last night went pretty darn well if I do say so myself. The food came out great which was a relief after a disastrous trial run the night before. Chuck brought some great wines including on of my favorite new producers. If you can find their wines do partake.

The Ladies

The Gents

The Food

Kissing the cook is always appreciated, but spanking him. Now that's what I'm talking about!

The Menu

Achiote and Chilie Pasilla marinated chicken roulade with panchetta, sage, and Manchego cheese over horseradish and Bouchant mashers and an avacado cream sauce. Topped with a roasted corn and Jicama salsa.