Category Archives: cook

Good changes are time consuming.

I’m not sure how I’m going to tailor my diet. I kind of like where I’m at right now, pretty much vegan, but I don’t know if I want to maintain that in the long term. First, it’s time consuming. The food I’m eating now is nowhere near as calorie dense as animal products. I can’t prep a week in advance, so I’m doing 2 days or so at a time. The second thing is grain. I don’t care for grains much. I had a torrid past with them, they trigger bad eating habits, so I don’t partake much. I’m paleo-ish I guess. With that, it would be kind of, well very, boring to eat vegan and eliminate grains. I don’t want to overdue soy either. That’s fucking boring. Okay, so I think I’ll slowly reintroduce eggs and fish. I’m in no hurry. Poultry, beef, pork, etc might become a treat, rather than a given. I’m definitely not reintroducing caffeine any time soon. The detox from it was miserable. I absolutely will eat a ton of fruits and vegetables. I didn’t realize how much I had gotten away from produce until recently. What about dairy? Well, I don’t know. I’m not a milk drinker already, but butter, hmm. And cheese. Oh, cheese. I don’t know yet. I’m not craving any of it, but if I want some in the future, then I’ll have to make the decision then. Maybe as a treat. I can cook just fine without butter, so that’s fine at the moment. I guess I should figure out how to keep my cast iron pan seasoned without bacon fat though. This is weird. I would have laughed at this six months ago.

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No, really, I mean it this time. (and delicious food)

Holy shit, I suck at this. That’s ok. I’m posting today, so there.

I was going to wax philosophic but I don’t feel like it. I’d rather talk about food.

I cooked coq au vin, and it was pretty damn tasty. I altered it a bit from what I consider to be the “best” version, a la Julia Child.

I halved this easily, and estimated here and there. No flour, but yes booze.

Coq au Vin

1/2 lb thick cut bacon

24 or so pearl onions, peeled, or 1 large onion, sliced

3-4 lbs chicken thighs and/or legs/or whatever parts preferred, bone in, skin on (Or buy a chicken and break it down)

6 garlic cloves, peeled

salt and pepper to taste

2 c chicken stock

1/4 c cognac or bourbon

2 c red wine (burgundy, cotes du rhone etc)

1/2 T tomato paste

2 bay leaves

Thyme, a few fresh sprigs (or dry if that’s all you have)

Parsley, a few fresh sprigs (see note on thyme)

1/2 lb mushrooms, rough chop

2 T butter

Parsley sprigs for garnish (if you care)

–I went with one pot, all the way through. There were bowls involved, but bowls > pots in the sink. If I had a dutch oven that would have been what I’d use, but I don’t, so I used a 6 quart pot, it held half this recipe.

–This is a dish that really likes being made in advance. It tastes great when prepared, and I think even better the next day. I suppose it can be made even healthier than this. Less bacon, less butter, less wine for stock, even less chicken skin (the horror). I like it like this, and this serves at least 4, closer to 6.

–Bacon and chicken should be on the dry side when added to the pot, unless you like hot fat splatter.

–I did not prepare the onions and mushrooms each separately because I didn’t want to. If I go that route I’m sure the flavors will have a lot more depth and such. This tasted just fine though.

Cut bacon into lardons (bacon “sticks”- @ 1″x1/4″ pieces). Julia simmers/blanches her bacon for 5-10 minutes in a saucepan. Maybe I’ll do it next time. Reasons vary from muting the smoky/salty aspects to firming it up. Like I said, maybe next time. Brown the bacon over medium-high heat until until it’s on the lesser to medium range of cooked. Remove the bacon, leaving the rendered fat in the pot.

Add the chicken, skin side down. Add the onions. Brown the chicken well on all sides. Leave it alone while it browns. It should lift from the pot easily, if it doesn’t, leave it a few more minutes before turning. Halfway through browning add the garlic. Total browning time, depending on the size will probably be between 10-15 minutes. Don’t crowd the chicken, this can be done in batches, or get a larger pot. I used quarters, which are thighs and legs connected. I’m going to split them next time. While browning, season with salt and pepper, I hit the underside while the top was browning and vice versa.

If there is excessive fat renders, spoon some off. Turn off the stove burner. Pour the cognac over the chicken. Carefully light it with a match and gently shake the pot for a few seconds until the flame extinguishes. Relight the stove burner. Add the bacon, stock, wine, and herbs, and tomato paste. Reduce to a simmer and cover for at least 20 minutes, again depending on the size of the chicken. Simmer until liquid runs clear when the chicken is pierced. Safe temperature is 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken, bacon and onions. Discard the bay leaves, and if you used fresh thyme and parsley, the sprigs. I kept the garlic, but it may be discarded also (whatever).

Add the mushrooms to the liquid and raise the heat to high. Reduce it by @ 3/4 volume. It should thicken up quite a bit. Lower the heat and add the butter. Add the chicken, bacon and onions back to the pot to coat with sauce. Adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish if you care and serve.

If I wanted to spend more time and have more pots to wash, I would prepare braised onions and sauteed mushrooms while the chicken was simmering. There are numerous ways to do that, and Julia did it best, in my opinion.

 

This recipe was inspired heavily by Elisa and Deb, http://www.simplyrecipes.com and http://www.smittenkitchen.com .

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Bronx Pernil

I’m calling this Bronx Pernil because it’s a combination of what I’ve known to be Puerto Rican style pernil and advice from the homeland (the Bronx). It exceeded my expectations.

Bone-In Pork Shoulder (Mine was labeled “picnic cut”) @ 8 lbs

As many garlic cloves as you like (I used 2 heads) – 1/2 sliced thick, 1/2 chopped

Adobo (I make my own – salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, oregano)

-Equal amounts of everything & a large pinch of oregano… Or whatever you prefer, this is less salt than you’d think

Juice from 2 oranges & 2 limes

1 large onion, chopped

olive oil

 

Marinate the pork.

Place the pork in a dish large enough to come up at least 2 inches around. Cut into the skin and fat on top of the pork in a loose cross hatch pattern. Don’t cut down to the meat here. I make a few cuts in one direction and then diagonally. Then stab holes in the pork, all over, before it gets slick. The holes should be at least 1 inch deep. I stab and twist. Rub it with olive oil. Sprinkle adobo all over it. Push sliced garlic into the holes, as deep as possible. In a separate bowl, combine the citrus juice with the remaining garlic and onion. Add salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Pour over the pork, cover and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight. I let mine sit 2 days.

Cook the pork.

Place the pork in a roasting pan, fat side up, with the liquid. I don’t find the need to add water or stock, as the pork renders quite a bit, but liquid at least about 1/2 inch deep is what I look for as it cooks. I had far more than that, without adding anything additional. Heat the oven to 475 degrees fahrenheit and cook uncovered for one hour. Turn the oven down to 275 degrees, cover loosely with foil and cook for at least 8 to 9 hours. I estimated approximately 1.25 hours per pound, so mine was 10 hours at this temperature. Remove the foil for the last 30-45 minutes of cooking to crisp the skin and fat. I judge doneness with a fork. I poked it and pieces were falling off. Remove the pork, let it rest at least 30 minutes. I removed the pernil with two forks, pulling it away from the bone. Some shredded right away, some was more in chunks, who cares. If you come across meat that looks underdone throw it back in the oven until you’re happy with it. There was so much drippings that I poured it into a separate container. If you want to eat the skin and fat separately, the chicharron, and it isn’t crisped to preference, remove it from the meat in chunks, which should be easy, due to the cuts made prior to marinating. Place the pieces in a small roasting pan and into the oven, let’s say 350 degrees, until it’s rendered and crisped to preference. It can be fried instead of roasted, but I didn’t feel like it.

Pair it with whatever you want. So delicious. Simple prep, low maintenance cooking. And cheap! Less than $2/lb when I bought it last.

Pictures to follow.

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Don’t cook when you’re sleepy.

That gem of advice is particularly close to my heart, for reasons I’ll explain another day.

Overcooked bacon smells nasty, devolps a gummy texture, and looks pretty gross, too. Over simmered soup also smells horrible, gag inducing. It also gums up.

Cut garlic early so that you wash your hands multiple times. The odor fades more. Same for onions.

If you think the bowl or pot you’re using is “just big enough”, grab the larger one. Unless you like transfering food and washing more dishes/pots.

Always curl your fingers under when chopping. Knuckle skin < finger tips.

While I’m not a huge dairy fan I do cook with milk. Less than whole fat never cooks as well.

Christmas arrives and passes far too quickly.

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Meatloaf?

I made a meatloaf. It was pretty damn good. I don’t go for meatloaf normally. I don’t even like meatballs very often. Something about eggy ground meat I think. This was good though. I’m going to make it again. Seriously good.

My meatloaf

1.25 lbs “meatloaf mix” – beef/pork/veal
1 egg
3 tbs tandoori spice mix (need to link)
1 c Stop & Shop organic salsa
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt
Pepper

I found it easiest to mix everything other than the meat first, and then the meat. I used a fork, but I could have used my hands. Eew. This is a fairly small amount so I placed it into a small casserole and threw it into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. After 30 minutes I drained it. After 20 more minutes I drained it again. Turn off the heat but leave the dish in the oven for about 10 minutes more to rest and drain a little more. I held the drippings and reduced it in a pan for “gravy”.

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Zucchini Pancakes & Turkey Tenderloin

Courtesy Balanced Bites http://balancedbites.com/2011/02/easy-recipe-grain-free-zucchini-pancakes.html and Foster Farms http://www.fosterfarms.com/recipes/details.asp?recipeID=260 .

My adjustments:

Zucchini Pancakes – frozen chopped zucchini, pulsed with my immersion mixer and a chopping/processor type attachment. Squeezed a ton of water out between paper towels. I also used almond flour. Mine were eggier than I expected, but no less tasty. I liked them more after sitting in the fridge for a day.

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Zucchini Pancakes - in the flattering light of my kitchen

Turkey Tenderloin – no applesauce. Also no blending. I chose to put all ingredients in an oven safe dish and bake until the turkey was cooked to my liking. And I liked it it, a lot.

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Turkey Tenderloin w/apples, onion and jalapenos

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What’s cooking?

My dumb foot wound made my regular Monday cooking marathon less enjoyable, and I prepared less as a result. I also need to learn my local supermarket’s weekly schedule (restocking, sales, etc) because Monday afternoon was less than impressive in the meat department. Zero whole birds. Zero ground beef. Unless there was some sort of meat shortage, it was a bad day to go. I’ll learn. I’m going to try earlier on Monday next week. Onto the deliciousness:

I cooked pork loin and chicken thighs for my meats. I prepped rubs and rinsed meat while I warmed the oven.

Pork loin – 30 Days of Paleo Spiced Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

I cook meat primarily by temperature, with time as a rough guide. I also substitute ingredients regularly. The great thing about cooking is that with experience comes improvisation.

The ingredients:

1.25 lbs of pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric – nope, too expensive
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom – nope, unable to locate
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
I added a little more ginger and black pepper instead. It probably tasted a little different, but still delicious.

http://www.30daysofpaleo.com/my-blog/2011/02/spice-rubbed-pork-tenderloin-baked-veggies.html

http://jensgonepaleo.blogspot.com/2011/01/tangine-spice-rubbed-pork-tenderloin.html

While I rested the pork I cooked kale, and then cut sweet potatoes and parsnips.

Kale – Nom Nom Paleo Quick and Simple Stir Fried Kale

I didn’t have bacon at the ready (the horror). I did have plenty of rendered bacon fat however, and the kale was cooked in that.

http://nomnompaleo.com/post/3082537932/quick-and-simple-stir-fried-kale-and-bacon

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Chicken thighs & sweet potatoes. Yum.

Chicken thighs – bone in, skin on. Rinsed and patted dry. Salt, pepper, miscellaneous seasoning that sounded good at the time. Preheated oven to 375 F. Baking sheet, olive oil drizzled over. I check 30 minutes in and then 10 minutes after that until my thermometer reads around 160 degrees and the juice runs clear.

Sweet potatoes – Cleaned, cut into chunks. A chunk is the size of something you would eat without needing to cut, but not so small that you’d eat two in one mouthful. Sprinkled with left over spice rub from Pork Tenderloin recipe, also olive oil. Cooked with chicken thighs until tender.

Parsnips – Simply Recipes Roasted Parsnips

http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_parsnips/

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Exceedingly crappy cell phone photos were abounding.

I love horseradish.

Chicken broth – from last week’s chicken, all leftover parts (unappetizing meat pieces, bones, guts) a slug (1/3 cup) of vinegar, into the slow cooker, water to @ ½ inch from the top. High setting until it begins to boil, low setting for at least 12 hours. Add more water once in that time, to the same level. When the bones are falling apart I stop. I allow it to cool for about 30 minutes then strain first through a strainer and then through cheesecloth. Mine is cloudy because I cook it for a long time and the fat and bone break down a lot.

I normally cook another meat, but my zombie foot wasn’t having it. Three proteins with three vegetables easily gets me through the week. I’ll likely make a soup this week from the broth. If I don’t like my veg choices I fall back to frozen for a night, and if my meats aren’t appealing to me I grab something random from the fridge and throw it in the skillet and ta-da. It’s far more reasonable for me to make one unplanned meal than attempt to cook all week. I learned a while ago that I won’t do that.

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