Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DIY Recipe: Chili

If you look for a Chili recipe online, you're going to come up with about 1 million variations on what people claim to be the "Best Chili EVER". Nobody provides you with a structure that you can modify to your own liking. Here is a new segment known as DIY Recipe, kind of like choose your own adventure:
  1. Meat. In batches in a large pot, season and brown 2-4 lbs of:
    1. Ground beef
    2. Veal
    3. Stew beef (Top round, bottom round, chuck)
    4. Pork
    5. Sausage (try not to use too much. no need to season)
  2. Remove meat when just browned.
  3. Aromatic Veggies. Add some oil and add some garlic along with 2 cups of:
    1. Onions/Shallots
    2. Celery
    3. Carrots
    4. Bell pepper
  4. Deglaze with:
    1. 1 bottle of beer
    2. 1/2 cup of wine
    3. 1/4 cup of vodka
  5. Extra veggies. Add in 2-4 cups of:
    1. Red beans
    2. Corn
    3. Bacon (seriously, it's a veggie to some people)
    4. Chopped tomatoes (or canned, or tomato sauce)
  6. Thicken. 2 tablespoons of:
    1. Corn meal
    2. Corn flour
    3. All purpose flour
    4. 2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  7. Add back the meat
  8. Season with any combination of:
    1. Chili powder
    2. Garlic powder
    3. Onion powder
    4. Cumin
    5. Oregano
    6. Black pepper
    7. Canned chilies
    8. Chocolate or cacao (unsweetened)
  9. Thin to your desired consistency:
    1. Water
    2. Chicken broth
    3. Veggie broth
  10. Simmer for:
    1. 1 hour
    2. 4 hours
    3. 12 hours
    4. 4 hours the day before, store in fridge, then resimmer for 1 hour prior to serving
  11. Serve with:
    1. Tortilla Chips
    2. Shredded cheddar
    3. Sour cream
    4. Sliced scallions
    5. Cilantro
    6. Cornbread
I used top round, onions, celery, wine, red beans, tomato sauce, corn meal, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, a touch of water, simmered for 4 hours and served with shredded cheddar and jack with some multigrain tortilla chips.

Fish with black beans

Black bean sauce is a pretty easy way to dress up Chinese food. Fish is tough to stir fry. Add these together and you have a dish that is of moderate difficulty.
  1. Coat the fish in cornstarch, rice wine, and oil (I left this out and it stuck horribly)
  2. Stir fry some garlic and broccoli. Remove.
  3. Get a good crust on the fish (use a bit more oil and just drain it to make it less greasy)
  4. Add back veggies. Throw in the black beans and a good amount of thickening fluid (i.e. corn starch and broth)
  5. Garnish with scallions or cilantro

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Home fries

I freaking love home fries. Hash browns are good too, but home fries are typically seasoned much better. I hate it at diners when they only give you the toast option. No, maam, I don't want toast, I want home fries. And both home fries and toast? Just give me double home fries.
  1. The key is to precook the diced potatoes, because they won't cook through correctly while frying (you're not deep frying these suckers). Give em 5 minutes covered in the microwave with a pad of butter
  2. Spread them out in a single layer on a hot cast iron skillet.
  3. Walk away for 5 minutes. Read the paper. Empty the dishwasher. Contemplate your being. Just don't futz with these for a good 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the potatoes and try your hardest to get an unexposed side onto the pan. At this point you can add finely minced onion. Season well with S&P and any herbs you like.
  5. Walk away for another 5 minutes.
  6. Test out the potatoes. They should be a bit dried out on the outside and crispy, but still puffy and nice on the inside. If not, season, turn one more time, walk away for a few minutes.
  7. These go well with any egg/meat combo. I like to fry my eggs in the skillet with all those flavors remaining.

Quiche and Lentil soup

Soup is easy in theory but takes a bit of experimentation to get the textures and flavors just so. This lentil soup took the following:
  1. A good tasting stock of ham hocks, bay leaves, onion, carrot, celery.
  2. A bag full of lentils, along with a can of diced tomatoes and a lot of chopped carrots thrown in about 1.5 hours before serving.
  3. An immersion blender to smooth it all out.
As for the quiche, it's pretty much the easiest way to make a meal with less than 10 minutes prep
  1. Precook broccoli in the microwave (covered to steam it)
  2. Grate some cheese, chop some ham
  3. Mix up a royale (two eggs, one cup milk or cream). Add nutmeg for a french touch.
  4. Pour royale over ingredients in a frozen pie shell
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes, let rest for 15.
French meals in the dead of winter? I guess so.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Singapore Fried Noodles

An American sensation, these curry fried noodles aren't able to be found anywhere in Singapore (trust me, I know). Usually, when you get this from the chinese place down the street it is really greasy. I tried to curb the grease, at the expense of getting good curry coverage. Next time, I'll dissolve the curry in a bit of oil and water before adding to the noodles.
  1. Soak/boil rice noodles.
  2. Marinate shrimp in soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch.
  3. Wok fry the shrimp until JUST done. Set aside.
  4. Fry garlic, onion, green peppers, scallion batons, and sprouts. S&P to taste. Set aside.
  5. Add curry to a good bit of oil. Throw in some beaten eggs, fry for a little bit, add drained noodles.
  6. Get good curry-age on the noodles, then add everything back in (including julienned leftover char siew).

Char siew - Chinese barbecued pork

This was a recipe I'd been trying to get right for a while. Usually, it's not worth making yourself because the char siew from the local market is excellent in most cases and cheap enough. But I'm not living in a place where I can get it that easily, so I had to make it myself. A mixture of burnt edges, sweet tang, and partially rendered fat make this dish a winner. Throw in some chinese broccoli (kai lan) on the side and it's almost like I'm back in Chinatown or Singapore.

This is going to be my style of "recipe". Remember, this is mostly by feel, mostly by experimentation.
  1. Stab strips of fatty pork butt all over with a fork
  2. Marinate in a mixture of hoisin, rice wine, ketchup, garlic, ginger, white pepper, five spice powder (ESSENTIAL for the right taste)
  3. Throw on a rack in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning twice and brushing on leftover marinade. Look for black charring on the edges. Don't worry, it's not burnt, it tastes amazing....

Table Vibrations: The Beginnings

Seems like everyone has a food blog these days. I'm finding that there are more and more resources online for foodies who want to recreate the magic in their own kitchens. From epicurious to allrecipes to one of my favorites, the Good Eats Fan Page.

Here is my twist on the food blog. Most people make blogs about their culinary masterpieces, their weekend forays where they break out the Cutco, print out the Bittman recipe and fumble around in the kitchen until something good comes out.

Mine is more of a never-ending story. The highs, the lows, but mostly about how I feed myself by any means necessary. You won't get a picture of all of my meals, just the more interesting ones. The things I try to do in the kitchen will come close to recreating recipes, but usually don't follow them exactly. My family likes to call this vibration cooking.

I encourage you all to experiment like me. And if I'm not experimenting enough, send me some ideas. Don't ask me for recipes, cause I probably won't remember how I did what I did.