Sunday, June 20, 2010

Armchairchef missing... APB published...

Ok it was an early morning phone call...  4:12 am on Friday.  The phone rang 5 times then, thankfully, went to voice mail, I said, "Oh, Jesus, I am so sick, I can't work today, I can't even roll my ass out of bed, there is no way I could  drive there let alone do anything, I'll see you Monday."  Then I made some gross choking, wheezing, coughing noises hung up, turned my phone off and rolled over and went back to sleep.  I know, pathetic... Actually it is a little worse, when Kris had come home on Thursday she walked in the front door and said "Oh My God you look like hell! I don't think I have ever seen you look this awful."  To tell the truth I don't miss work often, actually in the four years that I have worked there this is the second, maybe third sick day that I have taken.  So pathetic or not it isn't really that bad.

The following day my 11 year old, Miss El came to visit us she will be here for a week and a couple of days , so  what I am saying is, sorry I haven't been around much this week but I have a few things pretty much ready to go and several on the drawing board, but time and stress have gotten in the way a bit.  I promise I will be back in a few short days with renewed gusto I miss all of you .

Monday, June 14, 2010

Greentini or maybe Greenteane

Ok a few days ago I posted a recipe for a green tea and rum cocktail... it is a really good beverage for a summer afternoon, imagine laying on an Adirondack chair and slowly drinking this.  After I posted this a good blogger friend of mine TKW mentioned how she appreciated me taking something full of antioxidants and adding rum to it. 
Then my brain started going...What if?  

I have infused Vodka with different flavors before but I have never done this.  Here is, the base... Green tea and mint infused Vodka:
12 oz Vodka
1 1/2 green tea bags broken open
1 big sprig of mint (about 10 leaves)
put these into a bottle together and shake up and let it sit in your cupboard for 24 hours or so.
When it is all green and tasty you have your Vodka ready, pour that through a paper towel in a strainer and what you have left is essence of green tea vodka

Now my drinking friend here is where it gets cool!  Take about a half cup of your infused vodka and pour it into a cocktail shaker with a good amount of ice a Tablespoon of simple syrup and shake.  Put this elixir into a martini class and garnish with a sprig of mint.  Now if you follow this blog you probability know that I have been known to imbibe a bit of drink sometimes but I have to say that this one knocked me on by butt... wow!  Bright, minty and an icy smack of sunshine in a cocktail glass.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lamb Ribs in Poblano Mango BBQ with Diakon Cucumber Relish

I love the spring/summer I really enjoy grilling out it adds a whole casual dimension to cooking.  Not that cooking is ever stressful for me I enjoy my time in the kitchen I often chat about my experiments and adventures at work with the same alacrity my coworkers use when they talk about some hockey playoff games that are going on.  Grilling has a whole different aspect to it, cooking goes from being something that I enjoy to something well relaxing... call it culinary Tai Chi.

The latest adventure was... Well help me here it is hard to put into words the flavors and aromas worked well together and I love the taste of meat hot off the grill next to a light summery slaw the meal its self tasted wonderful but....  Anyway I will just start

Lamb Ribs with Mango Poblano BBQ Sauce served with Sweet and sour Cucumber Salad:

I am going to start with the Cucumber Salad:
1/2 of a seedless cucumber sliced thin (I used a Mandolin)
4-6 oz of peeled diakon sliced the same way as the cucumber
1 clove of garlic minced
a little bit of thinly sliced red bell pepper for color
1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar (maybe a little more)
2 TBLS sugar

Put the Cukes, Diakon, Red Pepper and Garlic into a heat proof dish while you heat up the vinegar and sugar on the stove.  Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is almost boiling pour it onto the vegetables and mix so that everything can absorb the flavors then cover and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least half an hour or as long as a day or two.

The BBQ Lamb Ribs
I actually started these both, the ribs and sauce, a day ahead the Ribs were easy so they are next, I made a quick marinade:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 TBLS brown sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt pepper garlic to taste
Mix these together and put in a Zip Lock bag with a pound and a half of Lamb ribs (one serving by the way, after a trip to a local historic farm no one but me will even consider lamb to be food) marinade for several hours or overnight.  When it is time to start put the ribs and all the marinade into a baking pan, cover and bake at 325 for about an hour, basting a couple of times.

The BBQ sauce is something that I have been working on for a while it tastes good but there is still some work to do... you'll see:

1 roasted poblano chili (if you need help with the roasting look here)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 TBLS Olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice from one lime
2 TBLS honey
2 tsp Worcestershire
2 mangoes chopped
1 jalapeno diced

Saute the first four ingredients until the onions are soft then add the  and cook until everything is mushy, about half an hour.  Let it cool a bit (I let it cool overnight) then toss into a blender and puree.  When it is time to cook the ribs go on the grill for about 15 minutes before you brush the sauce on them.  Coat well then turn so you get the nice caramelized flavor and texture.  When they are good and hot take them off and serve with the Cucumber Salad.

Here is the issue that I talked about, the sauce tastes wonderful!  It has the smokey depth of the roasted poblano chili that pairs well with the tangy sweet of the fresh mangoes the summery pop that you get from the honey and lime... well it tastes great!  however it LOOKS like something that the Grinch would dip is crispy fried critters in before going postal on the Whos... just look!  

I have no problem with the look of it but can't imagine slapping this sauce on something before I served it to a guest or worse a client,  I guess that I have to work on the color scheme of the ingredients too.  Any ideas?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Ok it you have been following for a while I have made pizza on the grill a few times but I have to mention that I often say that I can work a recipe to death.  A little tweak here a little alteration there and I just keep going until I am happy.   I think that I have about 5 recipes that are done now if you want to see some of them look here or here or this one.  There may be a couple of others that I am happy with but most are open to improvement...  This Memorial day weekend I pretty much made all of the hot food food on the grill (I know real original) we all made our own pizzas for lunch on the holiday.  This was a little different than my other grilled pizzas partly because we each made our own and partly because we mad them on whole wheat crusts!  Not completely on purpose I was following one of my regular bread recipes and ran out of white flour...

What do you do?  grab the whole wheat flour that you got for another recipe and go... 

The Crust:
not too hard this is a basic bread dough recipe
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp dry Active Yeast
1 TBS Butter melted
1 tsp Salt
2 cups White Flour
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

Take the warm water (105 - 115 degrees) and add 1/4 cup sugar then the two teaspoons of yeast.  Let it activate (get all foamy and funny looking) about 5-6 minutes.  To that add the butter and salt then the flour one cup at a time, stirring as you go.  You have to figure out how much of that last 1/2 cup will need go in, you want the dough to be firm but not dry.  Once you have this ready cover it in plastic wrap and put your dough in a warm place for an hour or so to rise.

This is the first time that I have used whole wheat flour in regular bread dough I found that the end result was a  little softer... is that normal?  After it rose I pressed it down then put it in the fridge until lunch time.  When lunch time came around I floured a table top and started to roll them out, well I rolled one Miss Lu rolled the rest and Mr Man gave one a try.  After they were rolled out I sprayed them with spray shortening and put them on the grill two at a time (low heat or if using a charcoal push coals to the side so you get indirect heat).  After 3 or four minutes on each side bring them into the house to top. 

I set up toppings on the same table:
Marinara sauce (from the store, yeah I am lazy)
Mozzarella cheese
a clean out the refrigerator assortment of cut vegetables.

Miss Lu made three of them... hers just sauce and cheese, Kris' Sauce Pepperoni and cheese Mr. Man Sauce cheese and five pepperoni "I am four and can count!"  Me just a whole mess of junk.  Once appropriately topped put back onto the grill two at a time and cook for another five minutes maybe.

So how was it you ask... really good this time, a little big for the kiddos but they asked me to save the leftovers, I don't think I have ever heard them say that before.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Corn Salsa

It was a good weekend, the unofficial opening of grilling season in the Midwest came and I took full advantage... Sunday I made a pork tenderloin on the grill, it is one of my "go to" dishes.  Pork Tenderloin has the ability to pick up flavors from a light marinade or hold up to
bolder flavors.   When prepared like I did for this one it is bright and summery but still tastes like meat.  Did that make sense? Anyway today's post isn't really about the Pork Tenderloin, I will pass that recipe along but this post is really about the side dish... Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa!

Let's get the Pork out of the way... on Sunday I woke up early and put together a quick marinade, really easy:
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 TBLS Rice Vinegar
Juice from one lime
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Orange Juice
2 TBLS Cilantro 
1 TBLS Honey
Salt and Pepper
Mix it all together in a glass bowl and put in a trimmed pork tenderloin pop it in the fridge and let it sit all day.  When it is time to cook toss it on the grill for about 5 minutes on each side until medium rare (for me) or a little more.

The Salsa is what I had more fun with!  Melt a TBLS of butter in a skillet on the grill then add about a cup of whole kernel corn, I used frozen, the store I go to had some fresh on the cob but I don't trust it yet.  Let this cook on the grill while you get everything else ready (maybe 15 minutes).  
I just want to take a moment to express my adoration of my iron skillet... I have had this thing since I was in college, Julie, a regular reader of this blog convinced me to buy it (I remember her looking at me and saying, "you will appreciate this it 20 years, just buy it!")   I use it often and it is always been in my cupboard ready to go, since it is well taken care of it is virtually non-stick and since it is cast iron... well indestructible.

While the corn is cooking on the grill In a bowl mix:

2 Cloves of garlic minced
1 Cup of grape tomatoes cut in half 
1 Cup of black beans
2 TBLS Chopped Cilantro
1 TBLS Olive Oil
Juice from one Lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and leave on the counter while the corn cooks, I like to let mine caramelize in the pan until the sugars come out, the corn will be a little chewy but not at all crunchy.  When the corn is done add to the rest of your ingredients and start the pork.  Once you have finished with the pork, well you see the first picture you have the perfect picnic meal ready.