Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baby Back Ribs

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing, "Mise en Place".


For Rub:
1/2 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh ground peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 cinnamon   
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning   
1/2 teaspoon thyme   
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon comino (cumin)
1/2 teaspoon dillweed
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon chipolte chili pepper

For Braising Liquid:
1/2 white wine
8 cups beef broth
1/2 cup apple cider
1/8 cup worcestershire sauce
1/2 stick butter
1 whole onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped

1 rack of baby back ribs 
olive oil for searing the ribs

Directions for Rub:
Combine all the above dry rub ingredients. 

Rub meat generously with olive oil then cover and pat rack of baby bak ribs all over with rub.  I cut the rack in half, so that it fits in the pot. Refrigerate and let marinade in the dry rub for a minimum of 4 hours, so that it penetrates the meat!

Sear the ribs by coating the bottom of a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven with olive oil and heat for a while. Then throw in the ribs and brown the ribs. Remove from pot and set aside.

De-glaze the pot with white wine. 

Throw in chopped garlic, celery and onion and cook for about 1 minute.

Then add ribs, butter, beef broth, apple cider, Worcestershire sauce. The ribs ought to be completely submerged in the braising liquid.

Bring to boil then lower heat until you a a slow simmer, cover pot and let simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. The meat should be just about falling off the bone when it’s done.

Remove the ribs from the braising liquid and set aside.

Now, turn the heat up on that braising liquid, add 1/4 honey and boil the until it gets reduced to a thick sauce.

While the sauce is finishing, finish the ribs by sprinkling and coating the ribs with more of the rub mixture, then using direct heat over medium heat on the grill, start browning and forming a caramelized crust, you turn it, and brown the other side. Remove them, then tent with a piece of foil and let them rest for about 4-5 minutes, slice and serve!  Enjoy!


Tip: You can add barbecue sauce on these ribs at the last few minutes if you prefer!  We prefer them just as they are off the grill with some reduced braising liquid sauce on the side.  With the left over ribs, we remove the meat and make tacos!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Asian Chicken and Corn Soup

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing, "Mise en Place".

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup white part of green onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup finely minced celery
6 cups chicken stock, homemade stock or store bought chicken broth
1/2 pound diced, boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 (12 oz) bag frozen sweet corn
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cornstarch, diluted in 1/4 water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or scallion, for garnish, optional
chile oil for drizzling, optional
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced then sauteed in 2 teaspoons butter

Let the bag of sweet corn thaw out, do not microwave. Set aside.

Using a food processor, or blender, add 2 cups of chicken stock and thawed corn, then blend until almost smooth, set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed pot, over medium heat, add canola oil, and then add garlic, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened about 3-5 minutes.

Add the rest of the chicken stock and bring to a boil, add in chicken, creamed sweet corn, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add diluted cornstarch and keep stirring the soup until bubbly, and thickened, simmer another 2 minutes and then slowly pour in beaten eggs into the soup, while slowly stirring in a circular motion, so that the eggs forms strings.

Remove pot from heat and check the seasoning. Add salt if needed. Dish out, and if desired sprinkle with some shitale mushrooms, scallion, or cilantro and drizzle with chili oil, serve warm. Enjoy!

Tip:  This soup is prepared in the same way as a “Chicken Velvet” soup by chopping the meat or seafood into small pieces and mixing it with egg whites, liquid and cornstarch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Alfredo Sauce

Tip: Read directions completely before preparing, “Mise en Place”.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
sprinkle Fresh ground nutmeg, regular ground is fine
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped, garnish
red pepper flakes, garnish

In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, add olive oil and heat, add garlic and stir about 45 seconds.

Add white wine and deglaze pan, continue cooking until wine in almost all reduced.

Add heavy cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes, continuously stirring.

Add grated Parmesan cheese and simmer another 5 minutes, continue to stir.

Remove from heat, add butter and stir to finish off.  Ladle sauce over any noodles you prefer.  Garnish with parmeson cheese, parsley and red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Tip:  Alfredo sauce can be served with pasta and vegetables as a vegetarian dish, with chicken, shrimp or bacon, or in any combination desirable.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Mise en Place"

"Mise en Place"
So what does, "mise en place" mean?  Which is pronounced, "MEEZ ahn plahs", it means to have all your ingredients on hand, prepared, such as chopped, or prepared a certain way for the recipe, and ready to go before you start cooking.  This includes having all the equipment you may need to prepare the recipe, translated it means, “to put in place.”

You may have noticed that in almost all my recipes, if I did not forget, I note on the top, "Tip:  Read all directions completely before preparing."  What I did not know until recently was that what I was doing already was basically "Mise en Place". 

My first job I ever had was working at a Chinese restaurant named, "Chung Mei Kitchen", in Pharr, Texas, back in 1974.  This is where I fell in love with cooking.  I remember all the ingredients that were needed were all ready chopped up and placed in containers, so that the chef just reached over and grabbed what she needed.  She had orders for Chop Suey, constantly coming in to the kitchen, which she could literally prepare in seconds.  She was a large wonderful Hispanic woman that could cook up the most wonderful dishes!  I thought she was amazing! 

Another job I had a as teenager was working at Mexican restaurant called, "Round Up", located in Pharr, Texas.  I worked as a prep cook.  I can remember making bucketful's of guacamole.  I'd have to pill and mash, literally hundreds of avocadoes, chop tons of tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, Serrano peppers and other ingredients that were needed for the chefs to prepare the items on the menu.  One of the items was their, "Botana Platter", which was piled high with fajitas, panchos.  It was also served with pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole and other dishes.  These fajitas were served on a sizzling platter with warm flour tortillas.  Botanas were listed as an appetizer, but it was a meal in itself!  So, "mise en place" was important because they needed everything ready to go, so that they could prepare the dishes in minutes!

Bottom line is that, when cooking try to make sure you have all your ingredients, prepared and ready to go.  It's made my life easier and more enjoyable in the kitchen, and it will makes your too.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Asparagus Soup

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

1 medium onion, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium russet potato, peeled, cut into chunks
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed, cut into thirds
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

In a pot, over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the onion for 2 minutes.

Add the potatoes, asparagus, celery and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken stock, butter and raise heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.  Turn off heat.

With a hand-held blender process the soup until it is smooth, or use a blender and blend in batches.  Be careful, since it is hot. 

Add white pepper and salt and stir.  Serve hot or chilled.  Enjoy!

Servings: 7 - 8 cups

Tip:  When you serve something cold, it needs to be highly seasoned.  I garnished with a teaspoon of Garlic and Herb Cheese and some Grana Padamo cheese.  The name comes from the noun grana (‘grain’), which refers to the distinctively grainy texture of the cheese.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Herb Scrambled Eggs

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

1 bunch fresh asparagus
Good olive oil
1/8 cup freshly grated Grano Padano
4 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons of Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices of English muffin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

While the asparagus is roasting, whisk the eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper, to taste.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet.

Cook the eggs on the lowest heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, to 3/4 doneness.

Add the Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread stir until it melts.  Continue cooking unless preferred doneness. Check for seasoning, salt and pepper, if needed. 

Serve with the roasted asparagus and English muffin.  Sprinkle with the Grano Padano grated cheese.  Enjoy!

Servings: 2

Tip:  Grano Padano is a subtler and less nutty and salty than Parmigiano, with a more delicate flavor that I prefer when you don't want to overpower a dish.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tomato Salad with Feta Mousse

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin softened in 1 1/2 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 lbs cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, sliced in half, and seeds removed, and jubilee
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 jumbo garlic stuffed olives, sliced in half  
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

In a small skillet, combine the feta and cream and simmer over moderate heat until the feta is slightly melted, about 1 minute. 

Stir in the softened gelatin and transfer to a blender. Puree the mixture until fairly smooth, than season with white pepper. Scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Bring the feta mousse back to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Whisk the mousse until loosened. Spread the mousse in the center of each plate. Top with the tomatoes, cucumbers and lightly seasoning each layer with fleur de sel and black pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil, garnish with the olives, red onion and oregano. Enjoy!

Tip:  The feta mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Feta cheese is traditionally made from the milk of goats, although feta from the milk of cows and sheep is also available.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken Veggie Stir Fry

Tip: Read directions completely before preparing.

2 cups boneless chicken thighs, sliced thinly
1/4 cup onion, sliced diagonally
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
1 zucchini, peeled then cut in thin strips (jubilee)
2 limes, quartered
1 carrot, peeled then cut in thin strips (jubilee)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon Huy Fung Chili Garlic Paste (optional)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
peanuts for garnishing
Huy Fung Sriracha sauce for garnishing

In a large wok, over high heat, add sesame oil.  Once hot add cubed chicken thighs and stir fry until lightly browned.

Add onion and stir fry until lightly browned.

Add white pepper, garlic, soy sauce, chili garlic paste and fish sauce, then stir.

Add carrot, bell pepper, cilantro and zucchini and stir fry only for about 45 seconds.  Squeeze 1 quarter lime piece into stir fry, throw it in, then remove from heat.

To serve, place on plate and sprinkle with peanuts and add 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce on the side. (See Photo) Serve with rice or noodles!  Enjoy!

Tip:  Sriracha sauce is made from sun ripen chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic.  The Huy Fung Chili Garlic sauce is made from a blend of coarsely ground chilies and garlic. The delicious flavor of the sauce complements everything from a crackers to poultry to soups! You can find both at HEB or Walmart.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spicy Pinto Beans

Tip:  Read directions completely before preparing.

2 lb bag dry pinto beans, cleaned
4 oz salt pork, chopped
4 oz bacon, chopped
1 medium sweet onion
2 jalapenos
4 tablespoons Fiesta Pinto Bean Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt

Clean beans, by picking through and removing any bad beans, rocks, etc... then thoroughly rinse them.

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water about 3 inches above beans, let them soak overnight.

Chop your bacon and salt pork into large chunks.

Cut the onion in half, then slice thinly.

Rinse the jalapenos, then chop the stem end off.

Heat your Dutch, over medium high heat, when hot, add salt pork and bacon, fry until crispy.  Drain 3/4's of the rendered fat liquid.

Add thinly sliced onion to bacon and salt pork and fry until lightly brown and soft.

Drain water from the beans, rince then add beans to Dutch oven.

Add water enough to cover about 3 inches above the beans. Add Pinto Bean Seasoning and jalapenos.  Stir thoroughly and taste before adding salt.  Some salt pork is saltier than others, you may not need to add the salt. The Fiesta Bean Seasoning ingredients consist of  onion, garlic, black pepper, chili, cayenne pepper, and salt which give it a great flavor.  HEB and Walmart stock it.

Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low, cover with tight lid and simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours until beans are tender.  Continue to check the beans, making sure the liquid does not dry out, add water as needed, keeping the level at least 2 - 2 1/2 inches above the beans. Everyone's stove is different and some may cook faster then others. Enjoy!

Tip:  The pinto bean (Spanish: frijol pinto, literally "painted bean") is named for its mottled skin (compare pinto horse), hence it is a type of mottled bean.  These are great for making re-fried beans!  Or have as a bean soup, with some corn bread on the side!