The Dumpling Diary

Dis cooking so you cooking too.

Pea S. I Love You April 10, 2011

If, culinarily-speaking, there is anything to say about me, it is that I sincerely enjoy a good dried bean foodstuff. I cook with dried beans/pulses so often, that I could probably make them in my sleep. However, I would not, because I semi-recently had a very vivid dream that my kitchen was on fire. At any rate, I would like to share with you a pretty basic method for cooking the little wonders. Really basic, but wholly satisfying.
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Today was extraordinarily pleasant, weather-wise, and warm weather, for some reason, always makes me want black eyed peas. Now, when I say this, please be aware that I do not condone listening to the musical group, and this is entirely unrelated to that abominable excuse for a band. If you find yourself experiencing confusion between the two, please refer to the pulse variety as, “cowpeas,” from this point on! I can also get behind, “Holstein beans,” but that is my own personal made-up variation, so don’t go asking for them in the grocery store…
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Now, when I say that I cooked up some beans, I do not mean to say that I boiled them up in a pot of water until the point of nasty. This method, regardless of the beans you use, will result in a sort of gravy, which means that it’s goddamn excellent served over rice. Beans and rice? Always. This is sort of a Southern thing, although use of peppers and celery (and a good amount of the spices) aren’t always necessary. You can play around with the spices all you want, also. I usually go with a bit of a Cajun-y vibe, so that’s what you’ll see here, as far as spices go. If you use something other than black eyed peas, the timing will be adjusted accordingly, because most beans have different cooking times. Also, please be advised that soaking is a very good option, you can either go with the overnight (cover with a few inches of water and cover the bowl, overnight), or the quick-soak method, which is covering them in a pot with a few inches of water, boiling rapidly for about 3 minutes, popping a lid on, turning off the heat, and letting it sit untouched for an hour. Same result! In the end, the soaking is a timesaver for the actual cooking process. Enough of that jibber jabber though! Let’s get on with it!
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Cowpeas Deluxe (I don’t know why I just decided to call it this, but let’s go with it anyhow)
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Here’s the fancy shot to prove that beans aren’t just for broke-ass hillbillies (oh, to be a broke-ass hillbilly…)
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And here’s the best way to eat ’em. Especially if you mix them all up with the rice, maybe a splash of Louisiana hot sauce too…
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Ingredients
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4 strips of bacon, chopped into 1″ pieces (you can use pork hocks, smoked sausage or salt pork instead, by all means)
1 small onion, diced
1 large stalk of celery, diced
1/3 cup red or green bell pepper (about 1/3 of a big ‘un)
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock (or water with bouillon, or just water!)
2 cups dry black eyed peas, soaked
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dry thyme
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
1-2 Tbsp Louisiana hot sauce (or whatever you prefer, you can also use 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, too )
1 bay leaf
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Method
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Okay, first, get yourself a big cooking pot, preferably heavy bottomed (cast iron for the win). Saute the bacon until browned over medium-high heat, and add all vegetables, sauteing until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute or so, until fragrant. Add all remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and then drop the heat down to a simmer. Cover with the lid ajar for about an hour, an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender. At this point, it should still be pretty soupy. We want the water to evaporate, and the starches to thicken up now. So, turn the heat up over medium or so, keeping a close eye and stirring frequently (stickbottom, do not want…), with the lid off. When it gets to a gravy-esque consistency, you are done! Check for seasoning, and serve over rice.
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Das all fo’ now. megohm, over and out!

 

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

Reasons why I haven’t posted in a coon’s age:
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– 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.
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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.
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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.
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Anyhow, to the recipes. As Sgt. Angel Batista would say, I am experiencing too much “passione.” Lawwwwl.
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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.
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Sopa de Dexter
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Ingredients
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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
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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.
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Shrimp Remoulade
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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’…
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Ingredients
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For the boil:
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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…
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Method
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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).
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For the Remoulade Sauce
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Ingredients
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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
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Method
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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!
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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.
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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.
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In a pot, sautée in 1 tsp cooking oil:
¼ cup diced red pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
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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.
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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
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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!
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Okay, final recipe!
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Salchichas Estofado (or, stewed sausages, tastes better than it sounds, ahha)
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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.
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Ingredients
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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
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Method
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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!
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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:
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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!

 

You don’t know beans about beans! October 22, 2010

Filed under: Main Dishes,Side Dishes — Meg @ 3:32 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Not yet, anyhow. Well, maybe you do! In which case, consider yourself my dearest friend. I’ve been inspired by a new acquaintance of mine and Jon’s, an Acadian man from New Brunswick, gardener extraordinaire, and a good home cook, too! Check out his channel on Youtube! It’s fantastic. Anyhow, I’ve been all up into the Down East stuff lately (pea soup is still in my veins – also, I tried to clarify the thickening process to whoever it was who was having issues with it, it’s in that post!). So, what I want to say here, is, we’ve all had baked beans, pork and beans, whatever you want to call it, fèves au lard, etc. FROM A CAN. Nothing wrong with that! Hobo’s delight! MY delight. My dad and I used to regularly sit down to a meal of baked beans and toast, maybe fry up some sausages, and for me, that’s a good memory, hopefully more of that to come. You guys all know that I LOVE simple food. Culinary school made me realize that, more than anything. That, and being on a budget most of the time, ahah. Anyhow, it’s one thing to bust out a can opener and have yourself some baked beans from a tin. Standard tomato sauce recipe, if you’re real lucky, maybe the Boston Baked Beans with little bits of hardly-cooked, low-end pork… product. I don’t know if it’s actually salt pork, but, hey. It’s in there. However, I think it’s a treat to spend a good, long time cooking REAL baked beans. Baked in the oven for hours on end. The devastation of waiting, followed by the satisfaction of actually getting to eat it. That’s really the best way, I think. Heh.
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Anyhow, you may or may not know, but baked beans are a pretty standard meal (well, maybe not so much now, but, say, 50 years ago and prior) in the Maritimes. Think Boston Baked Beans. Northeastern Atlantic food. Anyhow, to coincide with my recent Nova Scotia fixation, that’s what I made. Old-fashioned baked beans with molasses and salt pork. Mmm! No ketchup or tomato sauce in this bidness!
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Lassie Baked Beans
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Ingredients
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1 lb dried white beans (great northern or navy, but if you can find yellow eyed peas, use them) SOAKED OVERNIGHT (***or quick soak)
2 small onions, chopped finely
1 Tbsp prepared mustard (or 2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup molasses (I used fancy, blackstrap will probably work too)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 bay leaf
water
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Method
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After sorting through soaked beans, rinse and give them a once-over and pick out any possible stones, sticks or less-than-desirable beans (the plants where they package these things generally don’t rinse them and use machines for sorting). Put in a large cooking pot or dutch oven and cover with water 2-3 inches above the level of the beans. Cook at a simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are just starting to crack apart when you squeeze one between your fingers.
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In a bean crock or cast iron dutch oven (you could probably use a bigbigbig glass casserole pan/tinfoil too), add all remaining ingredients, mixing well. Add drained beans and stir, then add the cooking liquid from when you parboiled them, and if necessary, fresh water, to just cover the beans, maybe 1/4″ or so.
Mix again, it’ll look like this:
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So, cover that with a lid and put in a preheated 325 degree F oven, and cook for two hours. Then take it out and check it. It should look like this:
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So, give that a stir, see where the water level is at. If you think it needs more, add some, just to hit that 1/4″ level again. Cover again, and put back in a 350 degree F oven. Cook for another two hours or so, until beans are tender (you could leave it at 325 F if you have more time to spare though, by all means). Remove lid and cook for another half hour, to thicken up the sauce that’s being created inside. When it’s done, it’ll look like this:
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So, that’s essentially it! Long cooking time, but really easy to make. Worth it! You can serve these with extra molasses if you like, but I will insist that you eat these alongside some nice toasty brown bread and a hot cup of good, strong tea! Anyhow, for me, that’s the only way. I like to eat these as a main dish, to savour the living hell out of them, because they’re so good on their own. But, if you’re going to be a dick about it, you could also fry up some sausages or something too, I’m sure that would be tasty too. Anyhow, hope you try this recipe out, I know you gonna luh it!
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***To quick soak beans, place them in a pot with enough water to cover them (2-3 inches above level of beans). Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, leave lid on, and let sit for an hour (without removing the lid). That’s all!
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Gonna go work on ANOTHER post now (I’ve got some time to kill for a bit), megohm over and out!

 

Aaaiiiieeeee! June 14, 2010

Oooooooooh, my soooooooul! The new True Blood season premiere last night sparked something special in me. I honoured the entire day and the town of Bon Temps with a spicy feast with some Cajun-y razzamatazz. I did the same thing tonight. I have found a new favourite dish, a new delicious bread, a tasty way to eat peas, and somehow did not frighten an entire family. If you’re going to make these recipes, I should tell you that they taste good with some Balfa Brothers music on the side. Fo’riz. I will also add, that Bill Compton was looking particularly attractive last night on True Blood – the crawling out of the dirt scene. Cheeeeeeeowtch.
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Swamp Bread

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I dedicate this bread to Jon’s brother, Sean. He, who made my heart asplode while he offered some of this bread, proudly, to his friend, boasting and deeming it, “kick-ass.” It’s got all kinds of spices in it, and the flavours each have their own distinct little note while you eat it. Good stuff. Feelin’ good in the hood.
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2 1/4 tsp active-dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups tepid water (116-120 F-ish)
5 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/4 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp onion powder (I recommend a small onion instead though – I used powder to oblige Jon’s dad)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 Tbsp bacon fat (or oil, but, I love bacon fat. Yall know.)
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In a large bowl, mix yeast and sugar. Add water and let sit five minutes or so till it foams up.
Mix after it’s foamed up and dissolved, then add all spices and cornmeal (all remaining ingredients except bacon fat and flour.) Mix well, then work in flour, 1 cup at a time. You can use a mixer for this, with the paddle beater at first, then the dough hook after 3 cups of flour or so. Otherwise, turn dough out and knead for 5 minutes, or turn mixer on low speed with dough hook for 3 or 4 minutes.
In large bowl, pour in bacon fat, then spread it around the bowl and all over the dough (I use the dough like a mop!). Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm place to rise, until doubled. Then, punch dough down, divide into two pieces, and roll each out into a long rectangle – 14 X 10 ” should do it. Then roll them up lengthwise, seal edges. On a baking sheet, sprinkle some cornmeal, and then for the bread, cover with plastic wrap or tea towel, and continue to let rise till doubled. About 3/4 way through rising, make some slits diagonally (see picture). Cover again and let rise to completion. Have ready a 350 F oven, with a large dish of water on the bottom rack (this keeps the oven moist and helps for a crunchy crust). Uncover, brush the beaten egg over it, and place bread inside, baking for 30 minutes, or till bread sounds hollow when tapped!

– Particularly good with garlic butter!
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Chicken Sauce Piquant with Petit Pois

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Alright, I am particularly excited about this. I wanted to make it a lot more spicy, but had some capsicum pansies in the house. Needless to say, I doused it with somewhere between 1/8 – 1/4 cup hot sauce. Yeaaaaaaaaaaah! Wait, AIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!!
This was so good. I don’t even know what else to tell you. Oh, okay, wait. Yes I do. You don’t have to use chicken in this! You can use whatever you’ve got. Sauce Piquant is good with er’thing. Use catfish! Use frog legs! Use alligator! Crawfish! Horsemeat! I don’t care!
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1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup each diced onions, celery and bell pepper
2 medium tomatoes, small dice
5 cloves garlic
1 small chili pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups water or chicken stock
3 cups tomato sauce (well, 680 mL, but screw it)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup of your favourite house blend of Cajun or Creole spices. Basically everything in the swamp bread. You know. I recommend Tony Chachere’s if you’re going store-bought.
2 – 2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
10 chicken thighs, or whatever you want. 10 chicken thighs’ worth!
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In a large pot or dutch oven (preferably – for the iron/roux-browning equation), melt butter and add flour. Stir constantly until your roux turns the colour of peanut butter, or just a little bit darker. Then, add vegetables and garlic, cooking and stirring  often, for about 7 minutes or so, until they soften. Add spices, bay leaf, water (chicken stock) and tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Taste and add more s & p if needed. Bring to a slow boil, add chicken (or horse meat), cover and let simmer over low heat about 1 1/2 hours. Uncover, and continue to simmer over low for another half hour. Chicken will be falling apart somewhat. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Then, get your rice ready (I didn’t tell you about it yet, but you should serve this over rice).
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Also, if you noticed, there are some delectable, angelic little peas served alongside the sauce piquant. I was going to make one of my favourites, maque choux (fried corn, basically, with the trinity). However, I could not find any corn in this godforsaken house! DOMAGE!!! Who cares. We don’t got no corn, so we gonna use peas! Jon’s brother is a fiend for peas, so there we go. I’m going to take the liberty to call them “Petit Pois,” even though it doesn’t match up 100% with the actual dish called, “Petit Pois.”
Anyhow, they’re very, very simple to put together.
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In a skillet, melt 2 tsp bacon fat.
Add 1/4 cup diced onion (I used a purple onion)
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 clove minced garlic

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Saute that until veggies just start to soften, but don’t get mushy. Throw in 2 cups of fresh or frozen green peas, salt and pepper, all those nice Cajun-y spices, about 1 Tbsp water, and cook about 4-5 minutes, till peas are tender and cooked through. That’s it!
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And so folks, that’s all for now. I hope you have enjoyed Megohm’s Swamp Tours. L’aissez les bon temps roullez!

 

Mowin’ down like it’s 2010. January 17, 2010

Filed under: Breads,Main Dishes,Side Dishes — Meg @ 12:02 am

What’s up, blogfanzz? I know I normally write up a big schpiel for each post, centered around one main idea. I don’t know if I’m in the mood for that right now.  However, I do have a whole hell of a lot of recipes for this post, so just bare with me and keep reading! I’m part way through Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Say what you want, I don’t care! I like it!), so I’m doing the best I can. Lately I’ve been feeling pretty rotten about my lack of posting, because I’ve been doing so much cooking. Christmas was goooooood to us this year. Santa brought a Kitchen-Aid Mixer and Food Pro, amongst other things. That being said, expect a lot of bread recipes to come. There’s one in this post!

We’ve been playing around a lot recently with whole wheat flour. Taking on the annual New Year’s Resolutions that never seem to be fruitful (or remembered) for 96% of the population. We made a whole bunch of whole wheat muffins (healthy ones, like, going to extremes, subbing applesauce for real fat. Crazy talk.), and they were good for a while, along with most of our other health expeditions. It’s January 17, and readers, I am done with that tomfoolery!  Back to my usual grandeur, moderately-I-don’t-give-a-damn-fattening recipes and kitchen wisdom. I’ve been channeling my inner Paula Deen (and using the treadmill from time to time). I think it’s a fair compromise.

Whatever. Here’s a whole slew of bread recipes and some other good stuff.
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The first recipe I’m posting is one that I am commanding you to make right now. Just something to sip on while you read. It’s the best smoothie I’ve ever had. Look for the Europe’s Best brand frozen fruit at the grocery store, they have a 4 berry mix, and it’s superb for things like this, and muffins, all kinds of things.

Fourberry Smoothie (Fourberry is now officially a word)

Ingredients

1/4 cup each: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
1/2 ripe banana
3-4 heaping Tbsp vanilla yogurt
1 cup milk
1 tsp honey (I used wildflower honey. It was nice.)

Method

Whazz it all up in a blender. I personally like the novelty of Magic Bullet.  Revel in the glory of your new-found favourite drink.

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Coonass Bourbon Steak

The title sounds enticing, doesn’t it? COONASS?  STEAK? What could be better?!  For those of you who don’t know, Coonass is a self-given name, slang for Cajuns. I hate when I’m searching for recipes, particularly something Louisiana-ish, and the only thing “Cajun,” that comes up is some kind of degraded potato with McCormick/Club House “Cajun” spice sprinkled in until there is so much stale cayenne, you can’t even eat the damn things. That’s not Cajun. This recipe is Louisiana/Cajun inspired (not Creole), and it does not require even a milligram of that bottled abomination, “Cajun Spice.”  It does however, require bourbon.

Ingredients

4 sirloin steaks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme (substitute about 2 tsps dried, if you reeeeeeally have to)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed (I crush mine in a MAGIC BULLET first)
1 tsp paprika
zest of 1/2 lemon, juice of half
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1-2 Tbsp Tabasco
2 oz good bourbon
2 Tbsp mustard (I don’t really care what kind)
2.5 Tbsp oil

Method

Combine all ingredients from garlic to onion (in list) in a mortar and pestle and mash it up into a paste, as best you can. If you have a food pro, use that, just don’t liquefy it, or I’ll be all up on you like a bad rash!!! After it’s all pasty and nice, put it in a large bowl or fairly shallow pan (something to marinate in), or a big freezer bag. Add the remaining ingredients, except the steak, and mix well. Put the steaks in, and let marinate overnight. Don’t try and get away with 2 hours on the counter, because it won’t work. Just leave it overnight, and you will have great results.

When it comes to cooking them, you can grill them for about 8-10 minutes per side for a nice medium, or alternatively, broil them for about 5 minutes per side in the oven/broiler.

Aiiieeeee, etc..

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Creamy Spinach Casserole

You’re probably going to hate me, if you’re a pretentious foodie who has no soul or genuine appreciation of mom’s cooking. I may not be a mom. I may only have a cat who hates me. But the creaminess in this casserole (yes, I made a casserole) comes from our old friend, mushroom soup. Yes, there is a lot of sodium, and yes, it comes out all schlumpy and weird looking from the can. Sometimes, schlumpy is just the caterpillar waiting to turn into a beautiful butterfly. Or casserole. Sodium? Schmodium!  This recipe is actually really delicious. Jon got more excited about it than the steak.

Ingredients

1 egg
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/16-1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup milk
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 lb fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup finely grated mozzarella
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except spinach, mozzarella, and breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly, stir in spinach. Stir until they are completely coated. In a 9×9″ casserole pan, spread spinach mixture out evenly, and sprinkle on mozzarelly. Bake for 15 minutes, and using a fork (this part is weird, but I feel necessary), squish all the spinach down back into the bubbling mass that is green and delicious. Just to make sure you don’t get any possible crunchy bits. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top, to make it pretty and not obscene-looking. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until breadcrumbs brown.

(This recipe initially went with the Coonass Bourbon steak, and I would recommend that.)

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Cinnamon Pecan Muffins

Okay. Here is a muffin recipe that is good. I know you all make muffins at home. I know they always turn out insufficiently muffin-y. Sunken tops, or the tops you can’t rip off like an actual muffin top, the kind you get at a cafe or bakery. Here is a recipe that works. You will be throwing away muffin stumps like there is no tomorrow (but don’t, because stumps need love too)! Don’t even think about reducing the hefty amount of cinnamon, either. I’ll find out about it…

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp (or more) cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pecan halves (chop them up if you feel like it)

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. The method here is a bit different than most muffin recipes that you’re probably used to. It gives these their great texture, similar to that in a bakery or cafe.  In a mixing bowl, using either an electric mixer or stand mixer, mix flour, butter, sugar and salt and cinnamon to a fine crumb. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the mixture to sprinkle on top of muffins before putting in the oven. Stir pecans into large portion of the mixture. Mix in baking powder and soda. In another smaller bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, and then stir into dry, only just until mixture comes together (otherwise prepare for muffins hard enough to use as weaponry). Fill lined muffin tins, somewhat heaping, sprinkle with reserved crumbs, and bake near the bottom of the oven for 25 minutes, or till a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.  Eat shamelessly. (This recipe makes about 8 large muffins – use a regular sized muffin tin though)

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Pumpernickel Bread (No rye?!!)

Okay, we all like Pumpernickel. We all like the spinach dip in the little tub, next to the hummus and baba ganouj. So, save yourself like ten bucks, and a lot of preservatives, and mix up some sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, pepper,  garlic, paprika and chopped fresh spinach. Then make this bread. A lot of Pumpernickel breads don’t have caraway seeds, but I think that is criminal. This one has lots! It also has a nice sweetness to it, which comes from the molasses. The other plus – it’s kind of non-traditional, but this recipe doesn’t require any rye flour. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find that stuff?! Screw it. Just leave it out. People think rye bread tastes like caraway. Caraway tastes like caraway, fools!

Ingredients

1/4 cups hot water (not hot enough to burn your hands, but just about. It’s all about keeping the yeast alive!)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp active dry yeast

1 cup hot water (same principle applies here)
2 Tbsp oil
1/3 cup molasses

1 cup white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1.5 tsp salt
4 tbsp cornmeal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp caraway seeds

Method

So, I’ve posted the ingredient list in three sets. The first is your sponge. The second, your wet ingredients, the third, dry. The first thing you want to do, is proof your yeast. I don’t care if you made bread yesterday, and you know your yeast is active and living. I just find it reassuring, and I think somehow it helps it rise better. So, what you want to do is get a large bowl (or use the bowl for a stand mixer). Put in your sugar, and add the 1/4 cup hot water. Stir to dissolve, and sprinkle in yeast, giving it a quick swirl around in the bowl. Let it sit for ten minutes or so, have a coffee or something. Then, come back, and it should  be nice and foamy.

Stir it up again, and start adding your wet ingredients, mixing as you go.

In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, and add them a cup at a time to the liquidy-yeasty mix. Stir them in well using a wood spoon, or a dough hook on a stand mixer. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, or 5 with your dough hook on the mixer.

Shape into a nice little ball, oil it, and put into an oiled bowl. I like to put oil on the bottom of the doughball and use that to rub oil around the bowl, then flip it so the smooth side of the dough is covered, and flip it again, in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled. Punch down, shape into a ball again, and let rise on a baking sheet or stone until doubled (or almost tripled, if you want). Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

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New Orleans style French Bread

Jon and frenchbreadsabres

Oh god, this bread is fantastic. Crunchy outside, soft, chewy inside. Kind of like me (har har).  This recipe is from http://www.recipezaar.com, but I have to share it with you anyways. The secret is the water bath during the baking process, I think. Serve it with your gumbos, étouffées, red beans and rice, etc..  This recipe makes 2 loaves, although the initial recipe says 3.  This is an EASY, damn-near fail-proof recipe.

Ingredients

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 cups water
5-5 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp cornmeal

Method

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast, salt and sugar in warm water.
  2. Gradually stir in flour, adding only until the mixture refuses to absorb more.
  3. On a floured board knead the dough for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and brush the top lightly with butter.
  5. Cover with a damp cloth.
  6. Set the dough aside in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until it is double in bulk.
  7. Butter a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal, shaking off the excess.
  8. Punch down the dough.
  9. Transfer the dough to a floured board and divide it into thirds.
  10. Roll each portion into an 8 x 13 inch rectangle.
  11. Roll each rectangle up from the long side, seal and shape ends.
  12. Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet and with a sharp knife make several diagonal cuts across the tops.
  13. Brush lightly with melted butter.
  14. Let rise in a warm place about 45 minutes.
  15. Place the bread on the middle rack in oven.
  16. Place a pan of hot water on bottom of oven.
  17. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.
  18. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes.————————————————————————————————————————————————————-Megohm over and out!
 

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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.