Friday, January 21, 2011

The Spicy Tomato Sauce

This recipe is loosely-based on a recipe from Gourmet I found on Epicurious.

Spicy Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
1 large onion (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
28 ounce can of plain tomato sauce
2 dried red chilies
3 sprigs fresh thyme

Heat a small pot of water until boiling. Add sun-dried tomatoes and remove from heat. Soak 30 minutes.

During the soaking process, soften the onion and garlic over low heat in the butter. Stir occasionally. When soft, add the canned tomato sauce, thyme, chilies, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. During the 30 minutes start your pasta boiling. Cook according to directions.

Drain pasta, remove sauce from heat, and spoon over pasta to serve.

Sun-dried tomatoes are a favourite of mine.

The onion. 

Tomatoes soaking. 

Diced onion and minced garlic. 

The tomatoes after a half hour. 

Softening onions and garlic. 

My wine for the evening. Only $8 and incredibly good. 

The final product was spicy, but not overly so, with a bit of an overpowering tomato flavour. I might try whole, peeled tomatoes next time. 

Your soundtrack for this entry: Black Sabbath - Paranoid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Lamb Chops and Dandelion Greens

I absolutely love lamb and my recent poor experience at Astoria's Kabab Café inspired me to cleanse my mental palate by pulling out an unblogged dinner from a few months ago. Now, at the end of this piece you'll notice that the final dish contains roasted and diced sweet potatoes. I'm not including the recipe for that because I feel they didn't come out well.

Unlike the lamb and dandelion greens which came out SUPERBLY!

Lamb Chops
2 loin lamb chops
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)

Dandelion Greens
4 cups of red bitter dandelion greens (stem ends removed)
2 red chilies (crushed)
1 tsp salt

These are red chilies that I dried myself. Here's how I dry chili peppers.

These are crushed, dried red chilies. You can tell because I'm pointing at them. 

These are my lamb chops. If they were lamp chops they'd look a little brassier.  Coat in fresh ground pepper and salt and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

These are red bitter dandelion greens. 

These are red bitter dandelion greens boiling in a pot. 

When they've boiled down for about a minute, add the crushed red pepper and salt and cook for one more minute, stirring every few seconds. 

Heat a cast iron skillet on high and cook the lamb chops for about two minutes a side.

Share and enjoy. 

Your soundtrack for this entry: Amesoeurs - Heurt

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Quick Puttanesca

And an even quicker photograph of same! My apologies for the blurriness on this one. According to the New York Times puttanesca's name and origin have many explanations, likely apocryphal. Even so, I also appreciate a sexual connotation and my favourite explanation is also that this dish was intended to be created quickly so as to move on to the sexual intercourse.

In creating this I did not go to the New York Times' recipe linked to above. Instead I also improvised from ingredients in the house. This unfortunately omitted the anchovies, one of the best parts, but still ended up being tasty.

The Quick Puttanesca
1 large tomato (juiced and chopped)
1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
1 tbsp capers (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/2 cup of kalamata olives (chopped)
2 tbsps olive oil
salt (to taste)
pepper (fresh ground to taste)

Pre-head a sauce pan, add olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add garlic and brown. Once the garlic is browned, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until heated through.

Cook your pasta of choice (I used linguine), drain, and serve with the sauce on top.

Your soundtrack for this entry: Times of Grace - Strength in Numbers

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Glorious Chicken Redux

When I set out to make The Glorious Chicken my original intention was to finish it off by broiling the breasts with havarti on top. so often happens I forgot. Thankfully the chicken didn't suffer and doubly-thankfully there were two more breasts upon which to practice my skills.

One was used today in a tasty sandwich, but since I Cook Dinner and only recently blogged about lunch, we'll leave that one off the table this time. Instead I will focus on last night's leftovers, which included the sauteed mushrooms, poblano, and pearl onions from the other night.

The breast was reheated in a 300 degree oven for about 20 minutes, then the broiler was turned on, the chicken was topped with havarti, and put under the broiler for about three minutes. Doing this in the future I'd shred the havarti and broil for only two minutes. Obviously the chicken didn't need the havarti, but it was fantastic with it as well.

Next to this I served some classic mixed frozen vegetables. To these I added a teaspoon of coriander, a half a teaspoon of salt, and about a teaspoon of El Yucateco Green Chile Habanero Sauce. Excellent for kick and flavour.

Your soundtrack for this entry: Spiderbait - Fucken Awesome

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Glorious Chicken

I've been crowing up and down about this dish since I made it last night. So, yes, that's not a long time, but I did incredibly well with it. It was made off-the-cuff with mostly ingredients for which I had a hankering.

The Glorious Chicken
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsps ground coriander
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp salt
4 dried, red chilies, crushed
cider vinegar to coat breasts for marinating (about a cup)

The Glorious Poblano Sautee
1 poblano pepper (diced)
5 - 6 baby portabella muschrooms (sliced stemwise)
2 pearl onions (sliced)
1 tbsp olive oil

Place chicken breasts in a deep dish or tupperware container. Coat the chicken in all of the ingredients and mix. Place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Flip once.

Heat a large pan or iron skillet on medium-high (if using a pan add 2 tbsps olive oil). Spoon some of the marinade mixture, especially the fresh sage, over the breasts. Cook for fifteen minutes. Then flip and cook for another 7 minutes.

Mmm...pre-sautee. You'll want to pre-heat a pan, the add the olive oil. Start with the onions until slightly translucent. Then add the poblano for a minute. Finish off with the mushrooms. Should take no more than four minutes total.

Alongside this dish I served an inexpensive Chilean carménère from Natura. It was an excellent wine and only lost me $9.

The final product was fantastic, with a wonderful interplay of coriander and red chili. Tender chicken with plenty of juiciness served with a complementary spicy side of a different flavour. Damn I did good. 

Your soundtrack for this entry: Agalloch - The Black Lake Nidstang

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Time I Cooked Lunch

My good friend Gianmichael departed Astoria today for his Great White North homeland. While I'll no doubt see him fairly regularly as he returns to the area on business, it's sad to see one of my favourite people I've met in the last few years depart. This entry's for you GM!

About a week ago I invited him over for lunch (with the Thrifty Sifter, too). Now, after reading this entry you might say I didn't quite cook breakfast and I didn't quite cook lunch, but I refuse to use the portmanteau which combines the two meals!

I forget who exactly clued me in to the wonderful stuffed and roasted tomato which was the centrepiece of this dish, but I modified a recipe from Poor Girl Eats Well. You should read deeper into her blog as she writes and photographs well. In addition to the tomato cups I created a potato and bell pepper hash along the lines of that which Mom Cooks Everything makes.

Baked Eggs, Duck Bacon, and Asparagus in Tomato Cups (recipe for one tomato cup)
1 large, vine-ripened tomato
1 large egg (brown because I said so)
2 slices of duck bacon cooked ahead of time and diced
2 tbsp of diced, sauteed asparagus
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil

Yes, you read that right. Duck bacon. Specifically, while heading over to my usual pork/bacon substitute of turkey bacon, I discovered the grocer's bacon section replete with a new denizen: D'Artagnan Uncured Smoked Duck Bacon. This, this was the product of my dreams and bringing it home it exceeded all expectations. Better than I remember bacon tasting and that verified by both of my pork-eating friends. I have likely found my Mastering the Art of French Cooking bacon substitute.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook the bacon up ahead of time, like you would normal bacon. Dice. No need to keep it hot. At the same time dice the fresh asparagus into 1/4 inch pieces and sautee in a tsp of olive oil.

There's no need to peel the tomatoes. Simply cut the stem out and then cut a hole around the wider edge of the top. Scoop out the insides, being careful not to puncture the bottom of the tomato.

Spread the salt around the insides of the tomato cup, then fill the tomato 75% of the way with a mixture of your duck bacon and asparagus and place in a cooking sheet, pie shell, or baking dish. Crack the egg into the tomato cup and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the egg has reached the consistency you desire.

We went for a slightly hard yolk.

Potato and Bell Pepper Hash
1 large brown baking potato (diced, more or less)
1 small leek (sliced)
1 green bell pepper (diced)
1 red bell pepper (diced)
1 tsp fresh thyme (chopped)
olive oil

Feel free to substitute vegetables in this dish. Hash, at least in my household and many others, is traditionally a dish in which you can use fresh leftovers and "ends of things."

Brown the ingredients in a large pan or pot over medium heat in olive oil. Add a cup or two of water or broth and simmer for about a half hour. The goal is to have a slightly stewy consistency to the dish at the end with all the flavours melded together.

Add the salt and pepper to taste toward the end.

While I was cooking I broke the wishbone from The Roast Chicken with Wasabi Sauce with the Thrifty Sifter. We ended up with ends that were the same length. What happens then!?

More hashy hash further along in its cooking. 

My new magnetic timer. I suspect it's a cheap piece of crap, but so far it's doing the job. 

And here I realized the hash was done before the tomato cups. The Thrifty Sifter was hungry!

Gianmichael relaxing on my couch while we wait for the main dish. 

Lunch is served!

As you can see, the tomato fell apart. This happened with all three tomatoes and I'm unsure why. 

Still, served with some ciabatta from the Gian & Piero Bakery (toasted for GM, not for me and the Thrifty Sifter), this was a fantastic meal. I got rave reviews from my guests!

Your soundtrack for this entry: Type O Negative - Love You to Death