Saturday, November 26, 2022

White Chili

Although thigh meat would be a tastier choice of chicken for this dish, Lovey won't have it.  He's got to have boneless, skinless chicken breast.  To alleviate a tasteless, rubbery piece of breast meat for the chili, I brine them first. 

White Chili
Serves 6 to 8

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced
1 to 1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, brined, rinsed, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
4 (15 ounce) cans white beans (Great Northerns or Cannellini) - drained and rinsed. 1 can reserved and mashed 
2 cups chicken broth (boxed or homemade) + extra if you want to add to your liking
Salt to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream

Suggested Garnish: Avocado chunks, crisp tortilla strips, oyster crackers, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, chopped cilantro

In a 3 quart dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened, ~ 3 minutes.

Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is lightly browned on all sides and no longer pink in the middle. (Add a little more olive oil if necessary)

Add the garlic and the spices to the pot and toss with the chicken. Add the corn, beans (not the reserved mashed beans), and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point, taste the chili to see if you need or want to add any salt.  I usually do not add any salt because the brined chicken and chicken broth season it to our liking.

Add the reserved mashed beans to the pot. Stir in the cream. Allow the beans and the cream to warm up. Serve up and garnish if desired.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Shrimp Head Stock

I've made shrimp stock many times but never with all shrimp heads.  What a difference the heads make! The heads are definitely where most of the flavor is.  Whenever I visit Karen in Corpus we try to make a point to call the Shrimp Pimp. He delivers the best Gulf Shrimp right to your front door. Once he has weighed the shrimp and pulled the heads off I usually have him toss the heads. The last time I bought from him I decided to keep the heads and schlepp them back to Fort Worth to make some stock.  

Some Notes to Self and Observations:
  • Using a stock pot with a pasta insert makes it easier to strain the massive amount of solids.
  • Always start with COLD water.  The stock will be more clear than cloudy this way.
  • When using the heads of the shrimp, versus the shells, to make stock the stock will have a much darker color.  This may make a difference in the recipe I will use it in.
  • The most laborious task while making is the skimming of the foam. I will never perfectly remove all the foam so I don't worry about it.  I get what I can.
  • Always salt at the end.  I found with the heads, I did not have to use salt at all.  The heads provided a perfect kiss of salt from the ocean.
  • Uses:  soup bases, grits for shrimp and grits, cook pasta or rice in the stock for extra flavor
  • This recipe halves well. This can be made with 1 to 2 pound of heads.  Adjust other ingredients accordingly.

This is the basic.

 Rinse the heads and throw in a large pot.  I used my 16 quart stock pot with a pasta insert

 Prepare all the vegetables and seasonings and throw on top of heads.

 Fill pot with enough COLD water to cover ingredients by two inches.

Bring to a boil.  When the stock is boiling, skim off any foam that forms at the surface.  Lower your heat and let the stock gently simmer for about an hour, hour and a half.  Skim foam off as needed.

Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer.  When using this large amount of shrimp heads, cooking them in the pasta insert basket made it easy for the first straining.  For the second straining I lined a fine mesh strainer with a towel to catch the fine particles and sediment.

Let the broth cool then divide into Ball jars or freezer baggies to freeze. 

Shrimp Head Broth
Makes approximately 6 quarts broth

4 pounds Shrimp heads, rinsed
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
4 large celery stalks with leaves, washed and coarsely chopped
4 medium carrots, washed and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed 
4 bay leaves
2 tsps black peppercorns

In a large stock pot, place all ingredients and cover with enough COLD water to cover by 2 inches.

Bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam that forms on the surface. Lower heat to allow the stock to simmer very gently for about and hour to an hour and a half.  As any foam forms, skim it off.

Allow the stock to cool for awhile before straining.  

Since I used my stock pot with the pasta insert it allowed the first straining to be really easy; just like straining the spaghetti when you lift the basket out. For the second straining, strain through a fine mesh strainer that has been lined with a piece of muslim, several layers of cheese cloth, or a fine kitchen towel. This will catch any tiny bits and sediment.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Roasted Salsa Verde


Easy, great to dip a chip in, or to use in other recipes.

In a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat, roast the vegetables. 

It will take about 15 minutes to get a nice char on them. I roast the vegetables in two batches; the tomatillos in one and the onion, garlic, and jalapeños in a second batch.

Peel the garlic cloves and throw all the roasted vegetables except the jalapeños in a medium mixing bowl.

Cut the tops off the jalapeños and scrape out the seeds and veins. Toss them into the bowl with the other vegetables.  If you like the tomatillo sauce really hot, leave the veins and seeds in.

Throw in a large handful of fresh cilantro leaves into the bowl. Using an immersion blender mix everything together.  Process to the consistency you want.  Sometimes if I use it as an ingredient for another recipe I will leave it a little chunkier; smoother if using for a salsa dip or topping.  Salt to taste.

Makes approximately 2 cups. You can store in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  It will probably thicken up so add a little water and re-heat before using. 

Roasted Salsa Verde
Yields approximately 2 cups
Adapted from "The Cowgirl Chef - Texas Cooking with a French Accent" by Ellise Pierce

1 pound of tomatillos, husked and washed
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 half of a large onion, peeled and sliced in a few big pieces
2 fresh jalapeños, washed
a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, washed & stripped from stems
sea salt

In a cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat, roast the tomatillos, garlic, onion, and jalapeños until charred; about 15 minutes, You may need to do this in two batches; the tomatillos first, then the rest. 

Peel the garlic and toss the vegetables, except the jalapeños, into a medium mixing bowl.

Slice the tops off the jalapeños and scrape the seeds and veins out.  If you prefer a spicier salsa, leave the seeds and veins in.  Toss them in with the other vegetables.

Throw the cilantro into the bowl and mix with an immersion blender to desired consistency. Season with salt.

This will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  It will thicken up so prior to serving. add a little water and heat up.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Salem College Tea

Growing up, usually during the holiday season, a jar of "Friendship Tea" or "Russian Tea" would find its way to our home by way of a gift basket of some sort.  This drink was a mixture of Tang, Instant Nestea granules, lemonade mix, sugar, cinnamon and cloves.  You mixed a Tbsp or two in hot water and had a nice hot  drink on a cold winter day.  I loved it.

Alison W. turned me on to the real thing.  She took me to a little shop in Winston-Salem by the name of Salem Kitchen; a gourmet food to-go and catering company. We got some cheese straws, a frozen Moravian Chicken pie to take home and Salem Iced Tea; the real "Russian Tea".  I was hooked on it; and I don't even drink sweet tea.

I bought a cookbook at an estate sale called "The Old Salem and Museums Cookbook". I looked to see if there was a recipe for this tea since it is supposed to be a Salem recipe.  Indeed there was a recipe called Salem College Iced Tea.  Story behind the recipe, as published in the cookbook is this:

"A Salem College dietician, Miss Helen Vogler, started making and serving this iced tea in the college dining room many, many years ago.  Years later the recipe was acquired by Moravian ladies in Old Salem who served it at teas and receptions.  The tea became popular so the recipe was shared and is now enjoyed throughout our city. ~ Mary S. Leonard"

Alison acquired the recipe from Salem Kitchen and made a batch.  I made a batch of the recipe in my cookbook. We compared and started tweaking our recipes to make them taste exactly the way we wanted.  Here is mine.

Salem Tea
Adapted from "The Old Salem and Museums Cookbook"
Makes approximately 1-1/2 gallons

3 quarts cold water
zest strips from one orange (peeled, not grated with no pith)
4 sprigs fresh mint
2 Tbsp. whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
5 family-size tea bags (black tea)
2 cups Sugar-In-The-Raw (Turbinado Sugar)
1 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed (~ 5 medium oranges) or Tropicana 'no pulp' OJ
Fresh squeezed juice from 8 lemons (you'll get anywhere from 1-1/4 cups to 1-3/4 cups)
1 - 46 ounce can pineapple juice

In a 5-1/2 quart or larger Dutch oven, combine the water, orange zest, mint, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.   Remove from heat, add tea bags and steep for 15 minutes.  Strain the solids. Return strained tea mixture to the pot and add sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add orange juice, lemon juice and the pineapple juice (I don't always use the full can of pineapple juice.  You can add as much or as little to suit your taste). Cool and refrigerate overnight. 

Serve over ice or hot during the summer as well as the winter.  When Thanksgiving rolls around it just seems the right time to make a batch. When serving hot, especially on a cold winter night, it's extra special with a little bit of Bourbon in it.

Needs to be stirred up from time to time

Before adding to the mixture you can run the pineapple juice through a fine sieve to remove some of the fine solids

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Pork Fried Rice

Lovey could live off fried rice.  Wherever we are living he will seek out the restaurant with the best fried rice and then keep said establishment in business.  He ran across a recipe for Pork Fried Rice in an issue of Cook's Country. Now, I am the dealer for his drug; his pusher man.  He likes having this on a regular basis.

The majority of the work is prep. Once all the prep work is done the actual cooking literally takes minutes and voilà it's done.

Trim the pork, cut it into 1/2" pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.

Mix up the marinade and toss into the pork. Let this sit for at least 15 minutes. Can do this step ahead of time, refrigerating up to an hour but don't toss together until 15 minutes before beginning.  

Oyster sauce glaze

I like this method of boiling the rice; to heck with steaming

  Prep rest of ingredients

Don't let the eggs dry out. Push to side while still wet

A little prep work but this is one of the easiest throw-together meals I enjoy making,

Pork Fried Rice
Adapted from the June/July 2017 issue of Cook's Country
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 tsp. low sodium soy sauce, divided
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. dry sherry
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 quarts water
2 cups long-grain white rice
3 to 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
3 large eggs
6 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, mince
2 carrots cut into 1/4" dice
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped miniature cocktail corn

Combine 3 tsp. soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch and baking soda in a bowl.  Add the sliced pork and toss.  Let pork mixture sit for a least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.  In a separate bowl, combine the oyster sauce, sherry, ketchup, salt, pepper, and remaining 3 tsp. soy sauce; set aside.

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through and tender, about 12 minutes. Drain rice in a fine-mesh strainer or a colander.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and set aside.  Prepare scallions by thinly slicing and dividing the white from the green parts. Mince the garlic; set aside.  Dice the carrots and measure out your peas and miniature cocktail corn; set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a wok or a large nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.  Add pork in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until browned, about 2 minutes. Stir pork and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until dark brown on all sides, about 3 minutes longer.  Transfer to a clean bowl.  Note that, depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook your pork in two stages, using another Tbsp. of oil. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a now-empty skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering.  Add eggs and stir with rubber spatula until set but still wet, about 15 seconds. Push eggs to 1 side of skillet. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, scallion whites, and garlic to the empty side of the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Add rice and stir to break up clumps and any large egg curds.  Cook until rice begins to sizzle and pop loudly, about 3 minutes. Stir in peas, corn, carrots, oyster sauce mixture, pork and scallion greens and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.  Serve immediately.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Mother's Giblet Gravy

A simple, basic recipe for Thanksgiving gravy.  This must be served whenever turkey, mashed potatoes, and dressing are on the menu; it's the law.

When you prep the turkey, remove all the giblets. Rinse them off, place them in a sauce pan and cover with water. Add a carrot, some celery, and half an onion.  season the water with salt and pepper.

I also add the egg(s) to water so they can hardball while the giblets are cooking.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, skim off any nasty looking foam.  Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and forget about it for about 30 minutes.

Check the doneness of the giblets, turn the heat off and strain the solids.  Return broth to the sauce pan. When they are cool enough to handle, dice up the giblets and hard boiled egg and reserve in a small bowl until it is time to add to your finished gravy.

When your turkey is done, and removed from the roasting pan to rest on a platter, strain any solids off the bottom of the roasting pan and add the clear juices to the broth.  

Add corn starch - 1 Tbsp. for every cup of broth, to a ball jar.  Bring the broth to a boil. Prior to it coming to a boil but still warm, add enough broth to the corn starch and begin to blend it with a fork.  Put the lid on the jar and carefully (with a towel covering the lid) shake up your slurry until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Once the broth is at a rolling boil, give the slurry a shake to re-mix and slowly add, in a small stream, to the broth while whisking.  The gravy should thicken almost immediately.  Lower the heat and bring to a gentle simmer for several minutes.  Add your chopped giblets and eggs and allow to warm through.

Some Notes to Consider Before Making Your Gravy:

When prepping and seasoning your turkey for roasting, take into consideration that what you put in the roasting pan and the turkey may affect the taste of your gravy. I don't use anything sweet, such as fruits, because they simply don't make a tasty gravy. I like to use lots of carrots, onion, celery, garlic cloves and springs of fresh thyme or rosemary in the roasting pan.  I usually put lemon and onion inside the bird.  I use LOTS of seasoned butter under the skin of the bird.

If you need/want more gravy than your broth and juices combined make, use some boxed chicken broth to bring your broth to the desired amount that you want.

Do NOT add the dry corn starch directly to the boiling broth.  It will become a lumpy mess that you cannot fix and you will hate yourself.  I speak from experience.  ALWAYS make your smooth slurry in a jar first.

If you don't like the giblets/egg in the gravy, the gravy is still delicious on it's own.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin

This has become a staple on our dinner table for about 10 years now.  It halves well if two tenderloins are just too much. The original recipe is from the May/June 2009 issue of Cook's Illustrated.

Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and placing a wire rack inside the pan to hold the tenderloins. This is my normal set-up but I have improvised with thick slices of onion when I had to. Come clean-up time you will hate yourself if you don't use parchment paper.

Start with two 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pound pork tenderloins; either natural or enhanced (injected with a salty solution).

  Prepare your tenderloins by tucking the tapered ends under making the diameter of the whole tenderloin as even as possible.

Using kitchen twine, tie each tenderloin at intervals so the tenderloins will hold their shape.

Who can say 'no' to a glaze that contain all of these yummy ingredients?

Mix up the maple syrup mixture in a two cup measuring cup.

Instead of a normal flour dredge, Cook's Illustrated experimented with several combinations and found that a cornstarch based mixture helped the glaze stick more readily to the tenderloin.

If the tenderloins don't fit in the skillet initially, let their ends curve towards each other; the meat will eventually shrink as it cooks.

After browning on all sides place the tenderloins on the prepared baking sheet or pan with your make-shift rack

With the extra fat poured off, add the syrup mixture to the skillet and cook, scraping up the fond, until the mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup.

Reserve two Tbsp. of the glaze in a small bowl and set aside

Using the remaining glaze brush each tenderloin with about 1 Tbsp. of the glaze.

 Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 130° Fahrenheit. Brush each tenderloin with another Tbsp. of the glaze and resume roasting.

Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 135° to 140° Fahreneit. Remove the tenderloins from the oven .

While the tenderloins are resting, add the whole grain mustard, the remaining maple syrup, and any left-over glaze to the reserved glaze. Glaze the tenderloins one last time prior to slicing and serving. You can use any left over as a dipping sauce.

We serve this pork with some sort of sweet potato dish on the side.

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Serves 6
Adapted from the May-June 2009 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine

3/4 cup maple syrup, divided
1/4 cup light or mild molasses
2 Tbsp. bourbon or brandy
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 Tbsp. table salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds each)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard

Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining with parchment paper and a wire rack. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup combine 1/2 cup of the syrup, the molasses, bourbon, cinnamon and cloves; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and black pepper. Spread out on a rimmed platter or baking sheet.

Prepare tenderloins by trussing, at two inch intervals, with kitchen twine. Pat dry with paper towels then roll each tenderloin in the cornstarch mixture until evenly coated on each side. Pat off excess cornstarch mixture.

In a 12" skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Reduce heat to medium and place tenderloins in skillet at least 1 inch apart.  Brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the browned tenderloins to the prepared baking rack.

Drain off any excess fat in the skillet and return to medium heat.  Add syrup mixture to the skillet, scraping up the fond with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup. Transfer 2 Tbsp. of the mixture to a separate dish and set aside.  With the remaining glaze brush 1 Tbsp. on each tenderloin.

Roast until an insta-read thermometer reads 130° Fahrenheit, anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes.  Brush each tenderloin with more glaze and return to oven and roast until an insta-read  thermometer reads 135° to 140° Fahrenheit, about 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove the tenderloins to a cutting board. Glaze again and allow the tenderloins to rest for 10 minutes.

Stir the remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup, the mustard, and any leftover glaze into the reserved 2 Tbsp. glaze.  Brush each tenderloin with 1 Tbsp. of the mustard glaze.  Slice pork in 1/4 inch slices and serve with any leftover glaze.