The Dumpling Diary

Dis cooking so you cooking too.

Sopa de Dexter, amongst other things! November 15, 2010

Reasons why I haven’t posted in a coon’s age:
.
– I’ve been going in to work at the bakery an hour early every morning (4:45am) this past week, and falling asleep randomly when I get home.
– I’m generally a very lazy person, unless I become enraged and decide to channel my rage into FIERCE housework/cleaning.
Dexter.
.

.
On the bright side, Dexter is going to do a lot for this post, in particular. I have been binging myself on the T.V. series, Dexter, and in the matter of a week’s time, I’m a few episodes away from being up to speed with season 5 (working back from season 1). I am shameless. I am in love with a serial killer. I am in love with Miami, and I am in love with pork sandwiches, and all things Cuban food. I daresay Cubans are more fond of pork than even I. Obviously, they are no less than awesome.
.
This post will include a slew of Cuban-inspired/mildly authentic-seeming recipes that I’ve been eating/cooking with brute force. I figure, when it’s cold and crummy outside, I may as well watch/immerse myself in sunny Miami, while eating extremely satisfying food to match. What goes better with black beans and rice than a blood-soaked room and a murder investigation? NOTHING.
Not to mention, if you’re a fan of Dexter, does that show not make you hungry?! Come on, the intro is just food closeups (somehow, Michael C. Hall makes chewing on a piece of ham steak sexy, if that’s not Emmy-worthy, what is…), and they’re CONSTANTLY eating, and talking about pork sandwiches and sopa de whatever.
.
Anyhow, to the recipes. As Sgt. Angel Batista would say, I am experiencing too much “passione.” Lawwwwl.
.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
.
First things first. An amazing Cuban stew/soup that I cannot stop making/eating. For now, I’m calling it Sopa de Dexter. JUST BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT. It’s very savoury and well, I hate this word, but “zesty,” (robust, maybe?) and a little hint of spice, but really not much at all. It’s got tons of healthy vegetables in it, but also some “healthy,” porky goodness. The squash I chose to use in this was a Kabocha squash (typically used in a lot of Japanese cooking, but my mom brought me a couple, and I still have one kicking around), and you could really use any kind of squash, but this one seems quite hearty, and holds it’s shape well, despite extreme tenderness and a more savoury flavour than most other squashes I’ve come across. I love this squash to my core. Normally, I do not love any kind of squash at all. Also, this soup calls for beans. I used kidney this past time around, but I also used white beans before (Navy, haricots, whatever). I would also suggest using black beans or chick peas. Even though chick peas and I do not have the best history together, they do have good intentions.
.
Sopa de Dexter
.
Ingredients
.
2 Chorizo sausages (or smoked sausages), sliced on an angle
4 oz bacon or salt pork, diced
2 small onions, small dice
5 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery, small dice
1/2 green pepper, small dice
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup dried beans (or a can of pre-cooked)
1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp lime juice or red wine vinegar
salt, to taste
pepper
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1- 1 1/2 cups cubed, peeled squash (1/2 – 1″ cubes)
1 medium potato, cut in 1-2 inch chunks
1 cup shredded cabbage
.
Method

In a pot, cook diced bacon. Add onion, celery and pepper, cook until slightly softened. Add garlic, and cook for a minute or so. Add Chorizo and brown lightly. Stir in tomato paste, then add about 8 – 10 cups of water, as much as you like, really, but that’s a good starting point. Give it a good stir to make sure all the tomato paste is dissolved. Add beans, oregano, cumin and lime juice or vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until beans are softened, or just about. Then stir in squash, potatoes and cabbage. Cover loosely with lid ajar, and let simmer until they are tender, but not falling apart when you test the potatoes and squash with a knife. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. I particularly like this with a big hunk of crusty bread fo’ dippinz. This is my ultimate Dexter-watching meal.
.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
.
Shrimp Remoulade
.

.
If you haven’t had a good Shrimp Remoulade (reh-moo-lad), you haven’t lived. Any of those $5 shrimp cocktails with ketchup-horseradish sauces can go to hell, because Shrimp Remoulade will always blow it out of the water. Literally. Shrimp cocktails flying through the air across the salty ocean. It happens. At any rate, Shrimp Remoulade is essentially a shrimp cocktail, but the swankest of the swank. The zazziest of the zazzy. If you’re eating Shrimp Remoulade regularly, I suggest investing in a high quality smoking jacket as well. I make it a few different ways, but for the Miami version, an ode to my dear Dexter Morgan (and Deb Morgan, why not?), I made it with lime juice and general awesomeness. What sets a recipe like this apart from most other “cocktail,” styles of shrimp, is that this recipe involves a “boil,” and I don’t just mean a pot of water. I’m talking about a heavily spiced and flavoured pot of water (more of a broth or liquor), which is very typical of Southern shrimp boils. Similar to a crab boil or crawfish boil.  Jon is a big fan of this recipe, “the best shrimp you’ve ever made.” So, you know… I’m just sayin’…
.
Ingredients
.
For the boil:
.
10 cups water
6 bay leaves, ground (throw them in a blender/Magic Bullet/spice grinder, or use a mortar and pestle)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp paprika
10 whole peppercorns
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp hot pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp salt
1 lime (or lemon), halved (optional)
1 ½ lbs raw shrimp in shell (or more! however many you can fit, really), if using frozen, make sure to thaw first…
.
Method
.
Get yourself a big ol’ pot with a lid. Whatever you’d make a big pot of soup in, that’ll do fine. Add all ingredients from water down to the lime (or lemon), if you’re using that. Othewise, from 10 cups of water down to the 1 Tbsp salt. Give all of that a stir, bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Now it’s time to cook dem shrimps. You can leave them in the shell (I think it makes for nicer presentation, and well, they’re more fun to peel them as you go, when you eat), but make sure to devein them if they aren’t already. Otherwise, just pull the shell/legs off, and you’ll still have a nice mess of shrimp to eat. So, the pot is still simmering! Just add your shrimp in, all of them! Stir gently and let them simmer for 3-4 minutes, 5 minutes maximum (you won’t need to cook them 5 minutes though), until the shrimp turn bright orangey-pink and curl into a “C,” shape. If you overcook them, bear in mind that they’ll be rubbery as all hell. You can usually tell this by the “O,” shape they curl into. A perfectly cooked shrimp will still give a little “pop!” when you bite into them, but won’t be soft and squishy at all. So, anyhow, get those shrimps out using a slotted spoon, or strain them using a colander. Either way, save the liquid. It makes for a damn fine shrimp stock if you’re into making gumbo or bisque, or any kind of shrimpy soupstew-type thing. Chill the shrimp in the fridge until nice and cold, and serve with Remoulade Sauce (now would be a good time to make that, by the way).
.

.
For the Remoulade Sauce
.
Ingredients
.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp grainy Dijon
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
3 Tbsp finely diced celery
½ tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce (more if you like, same goes for cayenne)
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp lime juice
Green onion, chopped
.
Method
.
Okay, this is stupid easy. Put everything into a bowl. Mix it. Check for seasoning (salt and pepper). Top with green onions, transfer to serving bowl. Hey, presto, you did it!
.
.
So, you can serve the shrimp with the Remoulade as an appetizer, or whatever you see fit. I served it with a coleslaw and yellow rice on the side. So here are the recipes for those, if you’re keen to make them.
.
For the yellow rice, typically, one living in Cuba or Miami would use Annato seeds, but I do not have the option here, so I went with Saffron. That adds some swank too, I suppose.
.
In a pot, sautée in 1 tsp cooking oil:
¼ cup diced red pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
.
When softened, add 2 cloves minced garlic. Let cook around one minute until fragrant. Remove vegetables/garlic from pot, and add another 1 tsp oil to the pot. Add 1 cup of rice, and gently toast it over medium high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, watching constantly (you don’t want it to burn). Rice will smell nutty and toasty and you’ll hear it popping throughout. When it’s slightly browned, add 2 cups chicken stock, the previously sautéed veggies, 1 bay leaf and 1/2 tsp saffron. It should come to a simmer almost immediately (or just let it come back up to a simmer), give it a stir, cover and turn heat to low. Let it cook 15 minutes (no peeking!), then turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, covered. Rice: DONE.
.
.
For the coleslaw dressing, I didn’t go with a typical mayonnaise-based sauce (I already used quite a bit in the Remoulade, etc.), I did a sweet-sour vinegar based dressing. Typically this calls for sugar and vinegar, but I had some homemade rhubarb jam in the fridge, so I used that, and it was quite good!
To make that, combine in a small saucepan:

¼ cup rhubarb jam
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp lime juice
pinch salt and pepper
Optional: 1/4 tsp celery seeds
.
Bring to a simmer, let cook, stirring, until everything is homogeneously mixed, and some of the water has evaporated. It should be thick enough so that it doesn’t slide off a wood spoon when you test it, but not thick enough to coat it. Let it cool thoroughly, and pour it over 1/4 or 1/2 head shredded cabbage (along with matchstick carrots and red bell pepper, and I also like to throw in some kind of nut, and quite often dried cranberries). That’s it!
.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
.
Okay, final recipe!
.
Salchichas Estofado (or, stewed sausages, tastes better than it sounds, ahha)
.

.
This is a very, very tasty dish that Jon and I came up with. But, you will require some stomach room, so be wary of that. The sausages (we used smoked, but you could also use Chorizo) added a really nice smokey flavour to the entire dish. If you can’t find smoked, try to find smoked paprika, since the dish calls for paprika anyhow. This is a really rich and hearty meal, so, you know, plan accordingly. haha. This was served with more yellow rice, and some roasted sweet potato chips.
.
Ingredients
.
1 tsp fat (porkporkpork!)
1 medium onion, smal dice
2 stalks celery, small dice
1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped (I like small dice, as with most sofrito/trinity/mirepoix ingredients)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 smoked sausages, sliced diagonally in 3
1 can tomato paste
1 1/2 – 2 cups water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika (or smoked paprika, if you can)
1/2 – 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
.
Method
.
In a large skillet, sautée onion, celery and bell pepper until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Add sausage and let brown, making sure to stir fairly often. Add 1 can of tomato paste, mixed with the 1.5 – 2 cups water (however thick you’d like your sauce, initially), to form a sauce. Add to the skillet, with sugar, lime juice, oregano, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and a little salt and pepper to start. Cover and let cook 10-15 minutes, simmering over medium/medium-low heat. remove lid and let simmer 3-5 minutes, till sauce thickens to your liking. Check for seasoning, and serve over rice!
.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
.
So, there you have it. A boatload of recipes (“Slice of Life,” anyone? Anyone?) to keep your belly satisfied while your mind witnesses the horrors and eroticisms of Dexter Morgan and his dark passenger. Or, if you’re just hungry as all hell. You know. I recommend listening to Buena Vista Social Club to enhance the cooking experience. Here’s a taste:
.

.
That’s all for now I suppose, I will make an effort to post very soon, I feel like such a crumbum for not posting in ages. Now, to read Seven Centuries of English Cooking, and contemplate tonight’s dinner (if you haven’t guessed, I’m on an English tangent at the moment, now). So, for now, cheerio!
Megohm over and OWT!

 

All Things Garlicky August 3, 2009

Filed under: Breads,Main Dishes,Salads,Side Dishes,Uncategorized — Meg @ 3:51 am

Well, my friend Matt recently gave the rest of the intervebb a hefty nudge in the direction of The Dumpling Diary, and so, I feel that you should also click here to take in the glory that is The Static: Urgent!, a blog which encompasses… All things awesome, to be perfectly honest. Crazy feline Youtube links and what may or may not be sober/intoxicated/wonderful rants of patriotism, as well as information on local (Brantford/Brant County, Ontario) arts and events. Ch-ch-ch-check it.

NOW, to honour Matt and to buck up his self-depreciating inner chef, I give you All Things Garlicky.


———————————————————————————————–

Pasta Giovanni

Well, I can’t seem to make up any kind of Italian-ish pasta dish without giving it some corny name, so this is a badass take on pasta salad, which I made for Jon one day when he was being lazy “on account of the bad weather.” This recipe is not for the faint of heart (don’t worry, no chicken hearts or anything like that), or those who actually keep track of caloric intake. Those recipes just aren’t worthy of this place.  I serve this dish warm, you can serve it cold, and you could easily double or triple it for a larger amount of people. This serves two (or three, if you’re peckish).


Ingredients

2-3 cups of a shortcut pasta (rotini, farfalli, etc.)
3-4 slices raw bacon, cut in small 1-2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
3/4 cup green beans, cut in 1-2 inch sections (frozen or fresh is fine)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 ts. fresh cracked black pepper
splash red wine vinegar
fresh basil
salt, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese, to taste

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh)

Method

Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in a sealed container and shaking to emulsify, of use a blender (or kick it oldschool and whisk in a bowl).

Put a medium pot of salted water on, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, begin frying bacon in a medium-sized skillet.

Continue cooking both, strain pasta in colander when cooked through, and drain bacon, reserving about 1 Tbsp fat, and set bacon aside on a paper towel.

In frying pan, sautée nuts till they have some crunch to them, and set aside. Add green beans and garlic, and sautée till beans are tender.

Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Sautée another minute, and tear in some fresh basil, as much as you like, letting it wilt slightly, but still retaining it’s colour.

Turn off heat, and in a medium-sized serving bowl, combine the pasta, the green bean/garlic mixture, the nuts and the bacon, and the dressing you made prior. Mix well, and sprinkle in as much parmesan or romano as you see fit, season as needed.

———————————————————————————————–

Matt also inquired as to how he could make the infamous Garlic Grilled Cheese. Shun me or not, I used to be a giant Phish fan, some time around when I had dreadlocks and thought Trey Anastasio was the only guy for me, ever.  Anyone who knows anything about the band Phish, should know that Phishheads LOVE their garlic grilled cheese. Any parking lot outside of just about any jamband’s concert, you will find it, and you will not pay more than $2, and you will not find anything more sad and perverse, regarding this crowning achievement in the world of sandwiches. A slice of Kraft processed cheese slapped between two slices of white bread and some garlic powder.

No more. We’re going to Flavourtown. By the way, Phish still kicks ass.


Garlic Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

-The best white bread you can find. Go for San Francisco style Sourdough, or some kind of really nice Rye bread (caraway doesn’t hurt, either).

-Garlic. Actual garlic. In clove form. Mince it.

– Butter

-Cheese. It’s still a stunning sandwich with Cheddar, but Monterrey Jack, Havarti (jalapeno?), Provolone or Swiss always make for a nice grilled cheese too. Whatever you’ve got, so long as it’s not processed. Try mixing them!

Method
There are a few ways to go about building this sandwich, but I’ll get you going with the most basic one. Mince up as much garlic as you think you’ll like for one sandwich, maybe 1, maybe 2 cloves, until fine. Then, take the amount of butter you will need (for an ordinary grilled cheese), and blend it with the garlic, just stirring the garlic in with a spoon. It helps to make big batches and keep it stored in the fridge, if you plan on making this a lot.
Next, spread the butter on the outsides of the bread, and assemble as per usual grilled cheese.  Cook  in an un-greased pan (cast iron for best results), or in a 1990’s era sandwich maker from your local thrift store, yardsale or basement.

———————————————————————————————–

Now, this is where it could get even better. You roast it. I’m sure you’ve heard of, or tasted roasted garlic at some point in your life, but if you haven’t, please indulge yourself in it immediately. Roasting the garlic will help bring out it’s natural sugars and caramelize it, to the point where it becomes sweet and nutty and very smooth, and you can use it for all sorts of things. You can spread it on soda crackers for all I care, even that can be pretty damn exciting. However, if you’re going to incorporate it into your grilled cheese making habits, I would suggest making a garlic butter as above (roasted garlic of course), but also, try spreading the inside of the bread with it, before the cheese is added.

———————————————————————————————–

To make roasted garlic, simply cut the top off of a full bulb of garlic, place in aluminum foil, drizzle with (olive) oil, and wrap. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about half an hour, and brace yourself for the 8th wonder of the world.

———————————————————————————————–

Now, if you’re not going to roast it (and why wouldn’t you?!), at the very least just throw in some prosciutto and/or apple or something. If not for me, do it for those poor souls who work at “Kraft Canada’s What’s Cooking,” magazine. For goodness sake, they still think they’re nifty and avant-garde…

 

Ontario Asparagus and Potato Salad July 5, 2009

Filed under: Salads,Side Dishes — Meg @ 5:08 pm
Tags: ,

This is my favourite recipe for potato salad, EVER. It’s not mayonnaise-based, which is always thrilling for me (I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough of everyone’s grandma/aunt/mom’s famous potato salad with all kinds of tiny, indecipherable vegetables masked in globs of mayonnaise).

This recipe is light, easy to make, full of flavour (lemon and dill and garlic!), and a very nice change from ordinary potato salad. It’s very seasonal, and I’ve already made it countless times this past spring and summer, and for the past few years.

I’d also like to note that I’ve occasionally added crisped bacon or prosciutto, other times substituted green beans for asparagus, or different mustards instead of dijon (spicy mustards or Creole mustards are great in this case, I’ve found) and it’s always worked out nicely. It’s a really versatile recipe.

Ingredients

3 cups asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces

3lb new potatoes (peeled)

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 roasted red peppers, cut in 1/4 inch pieces, diced

1 bunch green onions (white and pale green), cut in 1/4 inch slices

1/4 cup fresh dill

Method

Steam asparagus till tender-crisp, 3-5 minutes. Shock in ice water, and set aside. Cut potatoes in 1 inch cubes, steam till just tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain well and place in large bowl.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper.

Pour 2/3 dressing onto hot potatoes and toss gently to coat well. Let cool to room temperature.

Add roasted red peppers, green onions and dill along with remaining dressing. Toss gently to mix well. Garnish with chives and serve at room temperature.