Monday, March 27, 2006

Supper Club


One of my favorite food bloggers, TAG, recently posted about Sunday Night Supper Club. Since Kim was going to be in town and I had a nice sized chicken in the freezer, Andy and I decided to make sunday night supper, and combined AB's recommendation of brining and BC's instructions on roasting.

We defrosted the chicken and brined it for 24 hours.

Our brine was pretty haphazard:
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
thyme
cinnamon stick
2 cloves
bring to a simmer so the sugar dissolves. Add a cup of salt and stir until dissolved. Add to your brine bucket, add enough ice to cool the brine. Add enough water to cover your chicken.

After it sat in the refrigerator for a day, we took the chicken out, rinsed it off, patted it dry. Generously salted the inside of the chicken. Filled the cavity with thyme, a lemon cut in half and a head of garlic cut in half. We tied the legs together, slathered the outside with 4tbsp of butter and put more salt and pepper on the outside. After 90 minutes in a 425 oven, you have a thing of beauty.



Halfway throught cooking we added an onion and two carrots to the bottom of the roasting pan. No reason for adding them halfway through other than we forgot to do it earlier.



We let the chicken sit for a good 25 minutes and then Andy whipped out his electric knife and carved it up.

I also borrowed a sidedish recipe from TAG, who borrowed it from someone else. Arborio Rice Salad. Mine did not turn out as beautiful, but I added sliced grape tomatoes and everyone seemed to enjoy the vinegary dressing.



Here you can see the rice salad as well as the spring veggie salad on the table. The spring veggie salad was an alteration of a recipe I found on epicurious.com . Their recipe called for fava beans or lima beans, neither of which I like very much. I do like edamame, so I substituted that and added a blanched zucchini because if I didn't use it I was going to lose it.

All the veggies are blanched and combined with shallots cooked in butter and salt and pepper, then at the last minute when everythign is just barely cooked you add lemon juice and green onions.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Eggs Motulenos

I'd been looking through Andy's Mexican food porn cookbook because it has delicious looking pictures. I knew I had two links of chorizo left over in the freezer and half a bag of frozen peas leftover from Arroz Con Pollo, so I decided to make Eggs Mutulenos.


Ingredients:
1 can black beans
1 clove garlic
1/2 small onion
hot sauce
2 links chorizo
2 tortillas
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 green onion
lemon juice
salt & pepper
handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 eggs

In a saucepan combine the can of black beans, the chopped garlic and the 1/2 onion chopped, as well as a little hot sauce. Simmer on low.

Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat in the oven or toaster oven until warm.

My chorizo needed to be peeled of it's skin before being chopped. Add the chorizo to a frying pan to render it's oil. Remove when crisp to a paper towel lined plate. Drain most of the chorizo oil.

Defrost the peas under running cold water and drain. Put in a bowl, add the sliced tomatoes, the sliced green onion and a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, set aside.

Carefully crack to eggs into the pan with the remaining chorizo oil. Fry until crisp on the bottom and the white is totally set on top.

To build this dish, put the warm tortilla on the bottom of the plate, add a large spoonful of the beans, the fried egg and top with the crispy chorizo and more hot sauce. Spoon the peas and tomato mixture around the egg. You can add cheese too, we borrowed a little Monterey jack from Steph.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Park Street Collective purchased a small barbecue grill at K-mart. After Donal put it together, it was decided that we should use it to cooks various meats and some veggies.

Here you can see Donal hard at work, while Jill keeps him company outside. When in the presence of men putting things together, I generally try to keep my distance, I've found it's less dangerous. But everyone came out of this unharmed.

Blake showed off his master knife skills and snappy hat as he disassembled a few peppers and a zucchini.

We let the veggies marinate in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and some dried herbs, salt and pepper.

Unlike the 884 collective, the Park St. Collective loves meat, especially if it's shaped like a sausage. Look at all the meat products purchased for just one meal!From top left and continuing clockwise we have, hamburger, Hebrew National franks, cheddar links bratwurst and Polish Kielbasa.

It's not that here at 884 we don't eat any meat, because we do. But we don't eat it in quantities like this! I had to take a picture just to show that it really happened.

We grilled everything up, I lost a few zucchini through the grates of the new grill, but everything else turned out wonderful.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

El Rodeo

Saturday night the park street collective and I wanted dinner and a movie. We decided to see V for Vendetta, but beforehand we needed to eat. One of my favorite restaurants in York is El Rodeo, so we endured the 30 minute wait.

I was insistent upon El Rodeo for one reason, Tapatio. Grilled chicken breast covered with grilled chorizo and cheese. Served with tortillas, rice and beans. I like to put a little bit of everything in my tortilla and make a huge mess. This is a phenomenal combination of flavors. Three out of four of us agreed it was awesome. Jill might have also agreed, but she had enchiladas.

Look how satiated Blake looks eating his Tapatio. As if we weren't all gluttonous enough cleaning out dinner plates, we also had dessert and coffee.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Five Guys Burgers

Went to visit Donal this weekend in Shrewsbury this weekend. I was starving when I got to his house, so we immediately left again and went to Five Guys Burgers in York.

Your choices are few, but I like that. Makes me feel like if the establishment is only relying on Burgers and Fries, then they must be worth it. You have your choice of single or double, cheese or no, bacon or no. All other toppings are available. Donal had a double bacon with cooked onions and mushrooms and barbecue sauce. I had double bacon with pickles, lettuce and tomato. We split a cup of fries. Very good burger, they're hand made, no preformed processed burger here. The bun was nice and toasty, but I would have liked another slice of cheese.

I don't know what Zagat rated these burgers, but I loved mine, and will go back next time I visit the Park Street Collective.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Puttanesca

Yes, Puttanesca.

We kept it simple:
Olive oil
2 small onions, sliced
A handful of olives, halved,
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
garlic
salt and pepper

I thought we had capers, but judgment upon the smellometer said, no, we did not in fact have edible capers.

Traditionally, anchovies are the final ingredient, but this isn't an 884 pantry staple, so they were missing from our dinner. We tossed cooked penne in the pan with the sauce and added a little cheese on top.

Earlier in the evening, Alison and I watched Giada De Laurentiis make Lemon Parsley Bruschetta, so I went to the store and got bread to add to dinner. This bread is fantastic.

We used

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices rustic cibatta bread
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt. Giada used her grill pan, I used the broiler on my oven. When it's golden, rub the cut sides of the toasts with the garlic. Generously brush the lemon mixture over the bread. Sprinkle with the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tomatillo Sauce

The Tomatillo looks like a green tomato with a husk on the outside. This little veggie is part of many Latin American green sauces.

Stephanie made dinner at 884 last night, and the star of her meal was a green sauce that started by boiling the husked tomatillos with a some jalapeno peppers.

Steph knew they were ready to be taken out of the water by the change in color. See how they turned "army" green compared to the first picture?

T-Rex drained the water off, added the tomatillos and peppers to the blender with a clove of garlic and about 1. 5 cups of fake chicken broth.

Then she whirred it all up until it wasn't chunky anymore. And at the last minute I think some lime juice and cilantro went in too.

The whole thing went back in to a sauce pan to stay warm and reduce a little.

Ingredients and Directions
1/4 white onion
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
5 serrano peppers
1/4 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 pinch salt
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS:
Place tomatillos and serrano chiles in a pot with water,
enough to cover them. Bring to boil, and continue boiling
until tomatillos turn a different shade of green (from
bright green to a dull, army green). Strain tomatillos and
chiles, and place in a blender with another quarter piece of
onion, 1 clove garlic, and a pinch of salt. Pour in reserved
chicken broth, so that liquid just covers the veggies in the
blender by about an inch. Blend all ingredients until they
are completely pureed. Pour salsa in a medium saucepan, and
bring to a low boil.

Watching Stephanie Cook

T-Rex continued to cook up a storm! Here she's poaching chicken in a mixture of chicken brother, garlic, green onions and cilantro. Poaching it allowed for the flavors to seep in and also kept the chicken very juicy and tender.

When it was cooked, T-Rex let me shred it up and set it aside in a bowl.

Then she made up a little black bean side dish. T-Rex is also the inventor of traditional 884 black beans, which involved opening a can, adding a little lime, cumin and blue cheese, and mashing a bit. But last night, she had a new idea. To the bean she added green onions, red and yellow bell peppers, jalapeno's, chili powder and some chipotle peppers. It was spicy and awesome! A little too spicy for me, but I think I just got a scoop with a lot of jalapenos. Alison added more hot sauce.

In preparation for the enchiladas, T-Rex had to fry the blue corn tortillas in oil until crispy. It looked dangerous, and I wished we had a fire extinguisher yet again. (I just went to ACE and bought one!)

When the tortillas were crispy we put them into the sauce pan of simmering green tomatillo sauce that you can see on the stove to the right of T-Rex. The tortillas had to simmer in the sauce until they were pliable enough to roll.

When they were soft enough, the previously cripsy tortillas were draped in the luscious sauce, filled with a little of the shredded chicken, rolled up and plated. We topped them with more of the green sauce, some queso fresca, chopped cilantro and a few white onions. We also had a little side salad and the famous beans. Sooooo good. More authentic tasting than any Mexican food I'd had on the east coast.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Mini Egg

Hands down, the best Easter candy ever created is the Cadbury Mini Egg.

They come in a delightful little bag like this. Or if you're lucky like I was, your local CVS will carry the extra big 22oz size, and you can eat and eat and eat and eat them.

I think it's the chocolate inside that really does it for me. Not grainy or fake tasting like American brands, the Cadbury chocolate is smooth and while I'd prefer dark chocolate, the milk is pretty tasty. And the shell, oh the shell! Thicker than the candy coating on an M&M and left rough and matte, provides a great contrast to the super smooth chocolate.

I hate that these candies only come out around Easter time.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Contessa's Mac and Cheese

Oh, during the weeks of sickness we all watched a lot of TV. Especially FoodTV. Steph saw the Contessa make Mac and Cheese one day, and I swore the next time I had energy I'd make it. A few days ago, we were all feeling in need of comfort, so it was the perfect time to make this comfort dish.

The final product was really really really good. I'd say this recipe is even better than AB's, and you know how much I love him. But frankly, the Contessa's recipe was easier, less time consuming and tasted better.

Mac and Cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
6 cups of cheese, shredded. I used swiss, white cheddar and fontina.
1 qt milk
1/2 cup flour
1 stick of butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 small tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs. I used Panko.

Boil water, add pasta, cook 6-7 minutes and drain well.

In a medium sauce pan heat the milk, but don't boil.

In a large pot, I used the one I had just boiled the pasta in, add the stick of butter and melt. Add the flour, whisking constantly so there are no lumps. Cook two minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly. When all the milk is combined, cook 2 more minutes or until it is thick and smooth. Take off the heat and slowly add in the cheese. When all the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth, add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, then add in the cooked pasta. Mix it well and slide it all into a greased 13X9 glass dish. Slice the tomatoes and lay on top of the dish, cover the whole thing with the breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

Previous Mac and Cheese attempts involved eggs and custards and curdling messes. But this recipe was simple and delievered a final product that had a great texture and flavor. This picture is blurry and the plate looks bare. We had a salad, but I was so excited I took a nervous picture and dug in quickly.

T-Rex loved her comfort food dinner. See the little T-Rex arms flailing!

We all loved the tomatoes on top, though we agreed summer tomatoes would be better than the ones I could get my hands on at the superfresh. I also thought that while I added a bit of salt and pepper to the crumb topping, it would perhaps be even more interesting if the topping was made up of half breadcrumbs and half barbecue potato chips. I know, I know, it sounds like every midwest casserole you grew up with, but think about it, the slightly sweet and salty tangy crunch constrasting with a rich and buttery sauce? You know it would be good.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A few people have heard my declaration to, at some point in the near future, become a serious vegetarian. This would eliminate all meat protein from my diet except for fish and shellfish. I know I know, I love to cook and eat, and this could prove limiting in both of those regards, but the environmental consequences of a meat eating diet is just too much to ignore. So, I've been trying to make some dishes that I've always wanted to make, but involve large quantities of meat, because I expect to be giving it up for good. Here is the first installment of recipes I'll never make again.

The other night Andy and I were being lazy and ordered food from Angelino's just down the street. I got an Italian hoagie (another thing I won't be able to eat!) and Andy got a meatball parm sandwich. His biggest complaint? The meatballs were all beef, it was like eating a hamburger with marinara sauce. So I set out to make a better meatball. We reviewed some recipes, mainly from AB, and concluded that a mix of beef, pork and veal would provide the best meat base for our dinner.

We added:
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (we used a mix of panko and Italian style)
salt
pepper
oregano
Italian seasoning
one package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of all it's juice

As you can see, Andy did the hard/gross jobs, like touching all the raw meat. Something about it really creeps me out, but when faced with a choice like touch the meat or don't have the meatballs, I would have come through.

Each meatball was rolled in breadcrumbs, then lightly pan fried to get a crispy exterior, but not to cook them all the way through. I placed the meatballs in a dish filled with sauce, then covered them with some additional sauce and cheese and baked them till the sauce was bubbly and the cheese was melty, about 25-30 minutes.

They looked fantastic, smelled great and tasted even better! The first night we put them on long rolls with extra sauce and had a salad. Really a very nice, if not messy way to enjoy a meatball. Since the recipe made like, way more than we could eat in three nights, we've been snacking on them ever since, and I think they peak after a few days sitting in the fridge surrounded by the sauce. Yummy!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mis-Match in Boston, Mass

I recently traveled to Boston to present a paper I wrote at the Eastern Sociological Society's 76th Annual Meeting. While I was excited to present at the conference, I was more excited to party and eat in Boston, as well as visit with my dear friend, Angela.

Here we are on the first night in town, I'd met Angela for beers a few hours earlier, so we were sufficiently toasted. This is the usually the point in the night where it is a bad idea to order a martini. Why? Because you'll spill the damn thing all over your lap! Who's idea was it to put it in that stupid glass? I don't remember what kind I had, but it was delicious.

Angela picked the restaurant, Match, based on my explaining we had some bourgeoisie eaters and a vegetarian, as well as people who love to drink! All requirements satisfied, we took the T (which is superior to SEPTA by far) to Hynes/ICA, walked one block up Mass Ave, and we had arrived. I felt a bit underdressed at first, but it was really just the hostessess who were overdressed. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I ordered the lobster burger with onion rings, sounds fast food, but it was so not. Look at this plate! Actually, it's four plates. One just for ketchup! And one just to hold the ketchup and onion rings! Aside from being only four bites big, the lobster burger was incredibly yummy and fresh.

Would I go back? Probably not. A little pricey for little food. Though I couldn't finish my onion rings, even after sharing with the table, I would have loved a full size lobster burger instead of this slider version. Boston on the whole? I pretty lousy trip. Angela and I had a few nice hours together where we played Scrabble and ate pizza, but I found the trip, and the city, more annoying than anything else.