Sunday, January 29, 2012

chili.

chili is one of those great American foods that pretty much everyone has their own rendition of. there have been, and will likely always be, grand arguments about what goes in it. should it have ground beef as opposed to cubed? should there be beans? if so, what kind? should the heat level be mild, spicy, atomic? i say there is no "right" way. but this is my way. and just in time for football! if you're into that sort of thing.

Atomic Kitchen Chili

ingredients-
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage (you can use hot or sweet for this. Mexican style chorizo works well too.)
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, fire roasted if you can get them
1 4 oz can of green chiles (you can omit this if you can't find them, or if you're more industrious you can roast your own. the ones i get from Trader Joe's are Hatch chiles.)
1 bottle beer (use whatever you want, but the less bitter, the better. i actually prefer darker beers for this. chocolate stout works well.)
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 guajillo chiles, rehydrated and minced (or spun through the Cuisinart)
1 tsp chipotle powder OR 1 chipotle in adobo (or more if you want it spicier. this is a modest amount and i usually use more)
3 tbsp chili power of your preference
1 tbsp mexican oregano
1 tbsp smoked paprika (if you don't have this in your kitchen, give up on life now. or go to Penzey's and get some.)
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp salt (this is really to taste, so use less or more as you see fit.)
4 cups beef stock (or any stock, or just water)
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, and 1/4 of the pickling liquid
1 28 oz can beans (i use red kidney, but use what you like)
2 tbsp masa harina, optional (this is really just to thicken, so you can leave it out if you don't have it)

set the burner to medium-high and heat up a big, heavy pot (like the Le Creuset you should have) and add about 3 tablespoons of oil. dump in your onions and cook until translucent. add the garlic and cook another minute or so. add the ground beef and sausage and start browning. you want to make sure you break up the sausage well or it will make the texture of the overall chili sorta lumpy. at this point, most people would drain the fat off the meat...i don't. do whatever you want, but i feel like it's just an unnecessary, messy step.

add the salt and seasonings and tomato paste, mix well. then the beer, tomatoes, chiles and stock. bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and let it bubble away for a solid 3 hours. stir it every now and again and make sure it's not simmering too hard. you're basically just cooking it until you like the consistency and this will vary from person to person, so you should start checking it around the 2 hour mark. near the end of cooking is when you want to add the pickled jalapenos, beans and masa if you're using them.

and that's it. put a bunch of stuff on it and serve with cold beer.




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

kitchen shit.

so i assume if you're reading this you have some interest in being in the kitchen, and as such probably enjoy a good kitchen gadget from time to time. this website has killer stuff at usually great prices, curated by semi-respectable celebrity chef types. like Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay, Michael Ruhlman (you HAVE to get his wooden spoons...they'll change your life) and Jacques Torres. i'm keeping my fingers crossed for an Alton Brown shop. there's a lot of non-culinary stuff there too, but who cares about that? go sign up. if you buy something i get points for being the referral, so you can consider it doing me a favor if you want. either way, it's totally useful.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

blackened cooking.

to preface this, i would like to say that i am in no way endorsing a vegan lifestyle. i loathe the idea of skinny-jeaned, self-righteous, tofu-eating douchery. however, i am not opposed to challenges in cooking and have been known to experiment with meat and dairy free options for my few confused vegan friends in the past. but then this guy comes along and makes it positively entertaining. and worse...i might actually eat things he makes. so i salute you, Vegan Black Metal Chef, however misguided you may be. because when i have the choice to judge people based on what they eat or what they listen to, metal always wins.



visit his blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

cold season. it’s a bitch.

something you should always have in your freezer, and i mean ALWAYS, is home made chicken stock. it’s not hard to make, really. ever go to the grocery store with little motivation to actually make anything for dinner and settle for one of those rotisserie chickens they always have? yeah, me too. frequently. so after you tear off all the meat like a savage with your bare hands, you take all the bones and throw them in a pot with some veggies and herbs and water and three hours later you have liquid gold. if you want specifics on that, email me. for this post is not about making chicken stock. it’s about the magical soup i just made with that chicken stock. because i have a cold. a nasty, black plague bitch of a cold.


Cold Killer Chicken Curry Soup

ingredients-
4 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, sliced
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces¹
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
a 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
2 tsp curry power²
salt and pepper
meat from 1 roasted chicken, about 2 cups
4 cups home made chicken stock

heat up your dutch oven (or whatever you use to make soup in, you want a large one, at least 4 quarts) and melt the butter over medium heat. toss in the onions and cook them til they’re transparent and slightly browning on the edges. add the garlic, ginger, bay leaves and curry powder. cook about a minute to open up the spices a little. dump in the parsnips and potatoes, stir to coat. add the stock and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. adjust salt and pepper as needed.

¹feel free to mess around with the ingredients a little. this could easily be made with any root vegetable.
²a note on curry powder: i used a vindaloo style curry for this, but any kind would work. i pretty much exclusively use Penzey’s spices, so i definitely recommend getting your stash from them.


(originally posted october 2011)

southern heritage.

ah, late summer. the minute peaches show up at the market, i pounce like a rabid animal. i buy them with abandon, and occasionally, with no plans for them. this week was one of those times. so i scanned the fridge…whipping cream (almost expired), buttermilk (almost expired)…

OLD FASHIONED PEACH SHORTCAKE!

so i whipped up some nice little buttermilk biscuits (thanks, Alton Brown) and a boozy peach compote. you’re welcome.


Buttermilk Biscuits (adapted from Alton Brown’s Southern Biscuits)

ingredients-
2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp cold butter, cut into smallish chunks
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl. toss in butter chunks and start smooshing them with your fingertips. once you’ve broken them all down and the mixture starts looking something like sand, make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. stir til just combined then turn out onto a floured surface.
this stuff is going to be pretty gooey so make sure you have enough flour down. knead the dough a few times then pat out into a circle, roughly an inch thick.

line a cookie sheet with parchment. cut out your biscuits with whatever you have around. a proper cutter, a soup can with both ends taken off…get creative. i used a small cutter so i would get mini biscuits. place them on the baking sheet so that they just barely touch, or else they won’t rise properly.
bake for 15-20 minutes. they should look like this when they’re done:
Rum Peach Compote

ingredients-
4 large or 5 small yellow peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 stick butter
5 tlsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp rum

in a pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. add brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and cook til bubbling. carefully add in rum and peaches and continue cooking til slightly thickened.
cool slightly, pour over biscuits, top with homemade whip cream and enjoy!


(originally posted july 2011)

cool things for hot times.

a few days ago i had a bunch of limes lying around. and it was 85°. the only logical action was make something deliciously frozen. thus,


Lime Coconut Gelato (adapted from here)

ingredients-
juice and zest of 3 large (or 4 small) limes
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coconut (whatever kind you have lying around)¹
1/2 tsp ground cardamom, optional²
2 cups water

in a saucepan, add the lime juice, zest, coconut, cardamom, sugar, and water. stir and bring to a boil. simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the sugar dissolves. strain and set aside to cool.

mix the cooled citrus syrup with the heavy cream. refrigerate for at least an hour, better if left overnight.

transfer mix to whatever ice cream maker you have and follow instructions. i have the KitchenAid attachment, which i highly recommend.

¹note about the coconut: you have options here. if you have coconut milk lying around instead of the flaked coconut, feel free to use 1/2 cup of that. this recipe can take quite a bit of experimentation. also, if you’d like to make this vegan, just substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream. just make sure you use the full fat kind, not the light.

²note about the cardamom: if you have whole cardamom, even better. just toss three or so into the pot with everything else.

things you can do with this gelato include eating it straight from whatever you froze it in, sandwiching it between two lemon cookies, or, my favorite application…put two scoops in the blender with a few ice cubes and your favorite rum. i prefer Kracken spiced rum. Enjoy!


(originally posted june 2011)

one of my favorite things: garlic scapes.

if you’re an early season farmer’s market goer in the northeast, there’s a fair chance you’ve seen garlic scapes in the last few years. what are they? basically the immature flower stem of the garlic plant. they taste like a slightly less harsh, greener version of bulb garlic. they look a little daunting to work with-long, curly, with an unopened flower head. but once you start using them you’ll lament the 11 months out of the year that you can’t get them. yes, friends, these unexpectedly delicious gems are pretty much only available for the month of June. and good news for anyone who can’t get to a farmer’s market-they’re popping up in Whole Foods here and there.


Garlic Scape Pesto

ingredients-
1 lb garlic scapes, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup nuts (i use pistachios but walnuts and pine nuts work equally well)
1/2-1 cup olive oil
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes, optional

cut off the flower head and end of all the scapes. you might want to use scissors for this, it will make your life easier. cut them into roughly 1 inch pieces and toss into your food processor (or blender if you don’t have a processor…or chop it all by hand if you’re really hardcore). pulse them a few times to get them broken down a bit. add the nuts and pulse some more. turn the processor on and slowly start adding the olive oil until you have the consistency you want. add the parmesan, salt, pepper and hot pepper to taste and process another few seconds to mix.

serve this stuff however you want. things i like to use it for: pasta topping, on toast for garlic bread, spread on grilled cheese, as a dip with pita chips…and i’m still finding new things to do with it. let me know if you come up with anything genius!


(originally posted june 2011)

new home.

welcome to the new home of the fruitcake ambush. i'll be transferring over some of the older stuff as i plan to keep the tumblr as a photo-only blog, so apologies for the things you've already seen. and as for the new stuff, get ready to salivate.