Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saurkraut Potato Salad

1 quart of saurkraut, drained and rinsed

1 pound small red potatoes, cooked until tender and quartered

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced red pepper

1 cup green beans, blanced and cut into 1" pieces
1 cut blanched carrots, cut into 1" pieces

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup cider vinega1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon mustard seed

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate a couple of hours-best overnight. If the salad is too soupy, drain off the marinade before serving, but the potatoes usually absorb alot of it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pork Belly

This is extremely rich and probably better suited for a Fall or Winter meal, but I had this pork belly, and I had to use it. Actually I only used a third of it and froze the rest for later.
2 1/2 pound piece of pork belly, rind removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
6 bay leafs
fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup sherry
I seasoned the pork with salt , pepper, fennel seed, bay leaf, and thyme. I smothered the belly with garlic, celery, onion, and carrots, doused everything with sherry and tightly double wrapped everything in foil. Roast the package at 200 degrees for 5 hours. Turn off the oven and let the belly cool in the oven for 2 hours.

Cut the belly into serving portions and crisp the fat side in a hot non-stick skillet until it is browned and crusty. I was going to discard the vegetables, but they were still in such good condition that I just served them under the belly. Some recipes call for making a sauce with the vegetbles and drippings, but there was just too much rendered fat for me to deal with.
This is almost flavor overload, so tender and succulent.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My "New" Copper Pans
Well, at least new to me. We left early Saturday morning to look for some Holly trees, and on the way to the nursery we came upon an estate sale. It was still early and a couple of hours before I had to leave for work, so we went in. On the outside it was a neat and tidy brick bungalow located in the neighborhood known as Holly Hills, close to Carondelet Park. Inside it was crammed full of stuff. Curios, and curio cabinets, furniture, collectibles, and clothes. It was obviously someone's lifetime accumulation. It looks to have been a happy life, although everything was quite dirty and grimy. There was alot of religious iconography, several fur coats-each stylish in their era, fancy gowns, men's suits as well. Since it was the last day of the sale everything was half off.
In the corner of a very greasy, dirty kitchen was a sad little pan rack with several pans hanging on it-and a sign which read, set $35.00-there were 7 pans and 5 lids. Some of the pans were so covered in grime that you could barely recognize them as copper.
Several pans had their original price tags still attached and labels and care instructions still on the inside. I don't think they were ever used. After at least 5 hours of elbow grease and a couple tubs of Twinkle Copper Cream, the pans look beautiful. The half off sale price came to $17.50 or less than $3.00 per pan.
Note to Mom:Remember the time in South Padre and Mexico we went to all those flea markets looking for copper pans-well I finally found them.

Mess of Tomatoes with Red French Vinaigrette

Growing up, my mom always had a jar of homemade salad dressing in the refrigerator-we also had all the bottled varieties, but my dad's favorite was mom's. We didn't call it Red French we just called it the homemade one, but I guess Red French would be a better description. I like it because it's not thick and heavy like some versions, it is more of a vinaigrette. It separates and must be shaken before using. For this tomato salad, I added some feta cheese, but blue cheese is also an excellent addition and a welcome change from all those creamy white blue cheese dressings. This isn't her exact recipe, but pretty close with a couple of additions.

We had an abundance of different kinds of tomatoes this week-Roma, beefsteak, heirloom, grape, yellow, etc.-so I just cleaned them and cut them up and tossed them all together with some feta, basil, and some home grown red onion from the Zakibe tribe and dressed it with Red French Vinaigrette.

Red French Vinaigrette

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoonsWorcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil (my mom probably used a vegetable oil)

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously, let the vinaigrette sit a couple of hours in the refrigerator, remove the garlic clove before serving.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Savory Ham and Guyere Bread

I read this in the New York Times Dining section last Wednesday. The article hyped it so much, I couldn't wait to try it. It was disappointing-maybe the article led me to expect too much or maybe I didn't have a glass of wine or cocktail in hand while I was sampling the bread. The article alluded that the French used this bread as an excuse to open a bottle of wine. It is sort of the poor cousin of Gougere. The recipe uses a quick bread or muffin type recipe, without the sugar, and replaces the sweet with a rich savory quality. It is called a cake because it is baked in a loaf pan or muffin tins.

I added olives to the recipe, and the olives were the best part of the bread, it just seemed so bland. No one hated it, but no one really liked it either, One of the cooks said it was good when he dipped it into his cup of spicy gumbo, another said it would be good with grape jelly-We had a chuckle at that laugh line-then I had him clean the fryers. Read the original article here.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoonsbaking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
6 ounces ham, diced into 1/4 inch dice-about 1 1/2 cups
6 ounces Guyere, 1/2 coarsely grated, 1/2 diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup roughly chopped olives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray your loaf pan with a release spray

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, salt, and pepper.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the mile and olive oil.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, do not over mix. Fold in the ham, cheese, and olives.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pans and spread evenly.

Bake until golden and a pick coomes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Cool the loaf slightly, and unmold onto a wire rack-wait an additional 1/2 hour before slicing or the bread may crumble.

Afterthoughts:It might have been helped with a topping or spread like a chutney, tomato relish, or something mustardy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Collossally Fail Okra

Not everything turns out the way you plan. I bought this okra at farmer's market last week, and I knew even when I was buying them they were too big-but they just looked so beautiful. I stewed the life right out of these pods and was still left with a fibrous inedible mess-truly like chewing on a log. Which is too bad, because the sauce was a delicious sweet and sour curry. I'll try it again and I will never buy such large okra again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greek Ribs

These ribs are just so appealing, they are slightly tart from the lemon and red wine vinegar, savory from the oregano, slightly spicy from the pepppers, enticing with just a little smoke. And the texture combines succulent and juicy meat with a crispy fire licked crust.

2 Slabs of St Louis style baby back ribs

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar

1 cup minced onion

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 thirty-two ounce jar of Greek pepperoncini, including brine

1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped

Salt to you taste and freshly ground black pepper

Prep your ribs by removing the silver skin along the backside of the ribs. Cut the ribs into 3 to 4 rib sections, and blanch in boiling water for five minutes.

Submerge the ribs in the marinade and let them marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

Bring the ribs to room temperature and roast them in the marinade at 300 degrees for a little over an hour, basting them every 15 minutes.

Drain the ribs and reserve the cooked marinade to use as a dipping sauce for the ribs.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire, and sear the cooked ribs until they are charred and crispy

To serve, spoon a bit of the cooked marinade with the pepperoncini over the top of the ribs and serve the remaining cooked marinade in a bowl to the side.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hegwood Family Reunion Potato Salad

I'm not going to the reunion, but this salad and especially this yellow Pyrex bowl reminds me of the many times I went to the reunion. This was my grandma Hegwood's bowl, and she loaded it with potato salads like this one many times. This salad is going to a Fourth of July Barbeque, and for once I'm not doing the barbequeing-which is quite all right with me-I enjoy other people's barbeque.

There really is no recipe for this salad, just boiled and diced red potatoes, hard-cooked and diced eggs, celery, onion, and pickles. Mix with mayonaise flavored with bright yellow hot dog mustard (French's). I sprinkled parsley on top, but grandma would have probably put egg slices on top with some paprika.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Arabian Okra-Bamia

I've become a big fan of Middle Eastern cooking these days. The flavors of olive oil, garlic, lemon, cumin, coriander, and fresh mint can just be magical. The origins of this dish came from Claudia Roden's "A Book of Middle Eastern Food" originally published in 1968-my copy still has its original $3.95 price sticker still attached. I bought my copy used much later, in 1968 I was still in high school struggling with chemistry and Latin way before I decided I'd really just rather cook.

At Farmer's market this one farmer had his okra sitting right next to his beautiful yellow wax beans, so I bought some of each. Claudia's recipe contains just okra, onion, and tomatoes-I just decided to add the wax beans. I believe this would qualify as a "mezze" in Arabic or the equivalent of "tapas" or what has just become "small plates" on alot of American menus.

1 pound fresh okra

1 pound fresh yellow wax beans

1 medium white onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

2 large tomatoes, skinned and rough chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Juice of two lemons

Salt and pepper to your liking

Chopped fresh mint, parsley, and cilantro (about 1/4 cup total)

Blanch the okra and beans separately in boiling salted water until they are just done and still crisp-tender.

In a saute pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients, heat the oil and add the coriander, garlic, and onions; let these flavorings sizzle a minute or two-do not let them brown.

Add the drained vegetables and the tomatoes, simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes.

Off the heat, add the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper. Fold in most of the fresh herbs, reserving some to garnish the top of the salad.

Best served at room temperature. Really good made one day ahead and refrigerated-just make sure it comes to room temperature before you serve it.