Posts Tagged ‘chiles

20
Jan
11

busy kitchen

Several projects going on at once: 1. marinating pork shoulder with sesame oil, cayenne, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and salt, per J-P’s orders; 2. rendering fat from said pork shoulder; 3. parceling out fresh masa from La Palma “Mexicatessen” to see if it freezes well; 4. eating a few tortillas from said masa. Also note that we will never want for read chili flakes again:

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That was the smallest bag I could find. It smells fruity and hot and delicious. I think John might be in for another housewarming present…

17
Aug
10

Momo’s chicken soup

PJ’s “small and beautiful”* celery soup from a couple of weeks ago made me want my grandmother’s similarly delicate and unassuming chicken soup.

Yields about 3 quarts

Phase 1

  • 1/2 pound chicken scraps (backs, necks, wingtips, whatever)
  • water to cover
  • salt to taste

Put the chicken scraps in a stockpot with water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Phase 2

  • 1 medium potato, chopped large
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped large
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, quartered
  • 3 small stalks celery, chopped large
  • 1 medium jalapeño (seeded and deveined if that’s your thing; I don’t), chopped large**
  • 1/2 pound bone-in, proper cuts of chicken (I prefer legs and thighs); remove skins and excess fat (there’s already plenty in there)***
  • juice of half a medium lime
  • more salt
  • a generous dash ground cumin
  • lots of fresh ground black pepper
  • about 3 cups more water

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While Phase 1 is simmering, prepare the ingredients for Phase 2. Skim the gunk off the top, then add everything on the list above. Return to a simmer and let cook, covered, until the freshly added chicken is done (another 20-30 minutes).

Phase 3

  • 1 ear corn, hacked into rounds that will just fit on a soup spoon to be nibbled at****
  • 1 double handful cilantro*****
  • maybe some more salt, pepper, cumin and/or lime juice, to taste

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Fish the chicken out of the soup and put in the ingredients listed above, returning to a covered simmer for while you shred the proper chicken parts. Discard the bones and the chicken scraps from Phase 1. Return the shredded chicken to the pot for 5 minutes or so, and you’re done.

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* Small and beautiful, as opposed to aiming for the TV chef goal of “bigass flavor.”

** My grandmother has ulcers and has been told not to eat spicy foods, but at least one chile always makes it in. When I asked her to describe what she put in this soup, the jalapeño was an afterthought. “Oh, and a pepper.” For flavor, of course.

*** I used boneless this time and relearned the important lesson that it cooks too fast and gets rubbery. Bone-in is the way to go. Can’t get it falling-off-the-bone tender without a bone to fall off of.

**** I may help my diners by shredding the chicken before serving (my grandmother certainly doesn’t), but the rounds of corn are non-negotiable. Nibbling them is half the fun. (For a non-summer version of this soup, just leave the corn out.)

***** Every time I rake a fork through a handful of parsley or cilantro to get the leaves off the stalks, I think of John Kraemer, who taught me that quick and easy technique.

09
Aug
10

big daddy peppers

This Saturday, we bought some padron peppers at the farmers’ market. The seller’s advice was to fry them in some olive oil and toss with salt. Así:

fried padron peppers

They taste a lot like okra, only less slimy and a little more bitter.

If you’re looking for them fresh, here’s what you’re after:

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Pimientos De Padron

23
Jun
10

mother of salsa

John Kraemer tells me that he has created a new elemental condiment–on the level of mustard or curry paste–that he’s calling “mother of salsa.” His instructions:

“Juice some limes, and add enough salt that the solution tastes about equally salty and sour (whatever that means). Mince together a few ripe hot peppers (thai, habanero, scotch bonnet), some chives and/or chive flowers, and lots of cilantro — enough that when they’re added to the lime the mixture behaves kind of like a viscous liquid, with no layer of clear juice floating on top. Then give it a bit to let the flavors come together. … adding it to chopped/diced/minced tomatoes it produces a plausible salsa cruda (likewise avocado/guacamole), but it also serves as a good finishing touch for many tex mex or thai dishes, and makes a good table condiment.”

The only problem is that the citric acid from the lime juice is not doing the trick of keeping the colors bright for longer than a few hours in the fridge, he says. I suggested storing at room temperature, but he that’s worse, if anything. I suggested tearing, rather than cutting, the herbs, and seeing how long it keeps without refrigeration. He said he’s mincing them pretty fine, so that would be tedious. I asked if a plastic lettuce knife would be any better. I also sent him to look in the Cooks Illustrated archives for relatively benign color-maintaining additives: anyone else have any bright (heh, heh) ideas?

Off to London…

20
Jun
10

pickled jalapeños

I’ve realized that I seek out pickled jalapeños for their taste. I mean, it’s nice that they have some heat, but it’s that combined with their basically sweet-and-sour character that really hits the spot. My work lunch is often a rice-refried beans-cheese-and-hot salsa burrito from El Toro, and it’s great, but it takes pickled jalapeños from the salsa bar to make it satisfying. At home, we recently finished the first jar that we bought in California, an unfamiliar brand called La Preferida. Too sweet, not sour enough, which may explain why it took so long to get through them. I replaced it with a can of La Costeña, and magic. Yes, taste and nostalgia are closely intertwined.

18
Jun
10

the pressure cooker’s maiden voyage

That’s the pressure cooker, building up pressure to make passable black beans in about 20 minutes. They weren’t as falling-apart tender as I would have liked, but that can be fixed with more time under pressure. Fifteen minutes, instead of 12, next time. Maybe 20 if I didn’t think to soak them, like I did today. This device cut my bean cooking time down to an eighth of what it normally is. I am in love.

The beans went into a chili that involved half a pound of ground turkey, an onion, an anaheim, one chipotle in adobo, two tomatoes, three zucchinis, as well as the usual garlic, red chili powder, cumin, and salt. If I do it again, I’ll cook the beans longer, use more salt and a couple more chilis, and add a little Maseca to thicken it. Minor adjustments. It was very good, and very fast.

22
May
10

fancy food for one, for many

John-Paul went to a cook-out in Palo Alto last night, so I cooked for myself. Wild Alaskan cod, poached, and California asparagus, roasted, all topped with an emulsion of the reduced poaching liquid and hazelnut brown butter.


Click the image for photos of the process.


Rachel called me just before I posted this to ask my advice on mole making. She said that her recipe called for deseeding and deveining the chiles. “What does deveining mean, and how much does it matter?”

My answer: The veins are the lighter colored ribs inside the chile that hold the seeds in place, and they and the seeds have most of the chile’s heat.

“Oh, so if I’m not worried about heat, I don’t have to do it?”

Right-o. And I was flattered.