Archive | Food
I know — I haven’t had a recipe or talked about cooking for a long time. But this may make up for it — Mulligatawny, but the Weight Watcher’s version. One cup is one serving. We doubled this and will freeze the rest.
Weight Watchers Mulligatawny
- 2 T Canola oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 t curry power
- 1/8 t ground mace or nutmeg
- 1 whole clove
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 t lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
- 1/4 t salt
In a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Saute the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and apple until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, curry, mace, and clove; cook, stirring 1 minute. Gradually stir in the stock. Add the tomato and lemon juice; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Put a stick blender in the soup and puree the chunks of carrot and apple that are left. Add the chicken and salt, heat to serving temperature.
We were having lots of people over on Sunday (including our new nephew!) and we wanted something quick and easy. Gina bought some chili seasoning mix on a deep discount this summer. Even though it wasn’t chili weather, we decided it would be the least amount of trouble to cook.
I’m picky about chili. I don’t really like beans in chili, but I generally don’t get that (because some people believe you must have beans in your chili, but I think the opposite it true. Also, I don’t even like ground beef in chili but usually opt for stewing meat of some kind. I treat chili like a stew, not a soup. If I had my druthers, you mix everything but the beans (if you must) a day ahead,
add the beans about 30 minutes or so before serving, and there you have it.
As I took stock of things on Saturday morning, I noted that the chili mix had beans already in it so I had already comprised on one thing. I didn’t want to compromise on the meat. So told Gina that I would get the meat and then we could get the chili going by lunch time — a full 24 hours before we needed to serve.
To say I use “stew meat” in the chili isn’t quite right. I tend to pick the cheapest cuts of meat in the store. Those are usually good meats for stewing. By looking at the ingredients in the mix, I noted there was a lack of bullion or anything that may make a good broth, so I also needed some bones to cook in the chili as well. I did find some beef stew meat at a good price but the beef bones were too expensive for my tastes. But wait — what was that on the top shelf? Well, lamb neck bones! Perfect! But do my in-laws like lamb? Heck, it’s chili! And who said I have to tell them?
Well, I did tell Gina and she made a sour face. I did have her taste some of the lamb meat after it had stewed a bit. She thought the flavor was too strong. Soon, the meat all fell off the bones and I fetched them out the best I could (though, really, not really good because there were a few left in).
I like the final results — I though the lamb added a wonderful flavor to it. My other half, however, thought the flavor was too strong. Her comment: “If I wouldn’t have known there was lamb in it, I would have thought the meat was rotten!”. I did fess up to our guests and they were surprised. I explained my reasoning, and some said they wouldn’t have made that decision. Yet everyone said that it was good. Next time I’ll invite Nubi over and he can decide.
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I don’t usually cook hamburgers at the beginning of the grilling season — I try to do something more dramatic than that. But we forgot to get something up the night before so I got some ground beef from the freezer just before we left for church. And it was sixty degrees today. What else am I doing to do?
I still had propane in the tank, which really surprised me. The grill fired up quick. I found some potatoes but no onions. But we had plenty of garlic, so I crushed a few garlic cloves and mixed them in with the diced potatoes, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil. I wrapped them in foil and put those on while I made the hamburgers. I mixed in my usual steak seasoning in the ground beef while I mixed the patties (ironically, I never use the steak seasoning on steak) and then put them on the hot grill and remembered how much I enjoy that initial hiss when the meat hits the heat. Leah helped me with everything but putting the food on the grill — there are just things that a dad needs to do himself.
Gina had the good idea of putting steak sauce on the burgers (again, nothing I would ever do on a steak) and that worked really, really well. Oh, and the garlic potatoes? Wonderful.
I need to clean my grill out before too much longer, but it was a good start to what I hope is another wonderful season the on the grill.
I mentioned this book earlier, but this is the full review.
Heat is a true story about Bill Buford who was assigned to do a profile on Mario Batali for The New Yorker. What his boss probably didn’t know is that Buford has always wanted to be a cook in a restaurant, to really understand food. Soon, he’s working as a prep cook at Babo. A year later, he’s still at Babo almost every night. After that, he finds himself in Tuscany as a butcher’s apprentice. Not just any butcher but Dario Cecchini, considered the best in the world.
What could have been just a tale about a mid-life crisis was very endearing. Buford made you relate to the blood, sweat and tears of the restaurant kitchen and the characters that live there. I’ve never been a big fan of Batali — I find his shows annoying but the book addresses some of that. In short: Batali looks hung over in many episodes of Malto Mario because he probably was.
If the book would have stopped at Batali and the people in Babo it would have been good. But what made it great was the time in Tuscany with Dario. Dario considers himself an artist, using meat as his medium. As he works, he likes to quote Dante and listen to Mozart. His mentor, who is only referred to as “The Maestro” also works in the shop. So do several other people, although some just get paid to read the newspaper outloud. Dario is the most interesting character in the whole book, — Buford portrayed him extremely well.
Needless to say, I loved this book! I had a hard time putting it down. It’s a book about food but, mostly, it’s about the people who make the food and really have a love for creating dishes and learning new ways for us to eat. Thanks to Cooking for Engineers for bringing it to my attention. It gets a rare 5 out of 5
pork shanks stars.
As Gina wrote, yesterday was “Meals for a Month” time again, when she and I make 15 different meals to feed us for a month. This month went better than last time, but then we only make them for us not for Gina’s sister and her husband. Half as many meals makes a difference.
When we do this, I’m the prep cook — I chop all the onions, garlic, green pepper, etc. for all the recipes before we get started. It can be a lot of work, but it’s well-worth having all the veggies done before the assembly starts (Gina is the assembler, in case you didn’t figure that out). As I’m chopping up five cups of onions, I was thinking about the book Heat: An Amateur\’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany where they have 2-4 people work all day doing this, preparing the meat, etc for all the night’s work. It grueling, usually you aren’t paid (especially if you just graduated from cooking school!) This is where the term “kitchen slave” from the title comes in. Of course, I only did five cups of onion — they might do twenty to thirty. And each piece has to be the same size. I wasn’t that careful.
I love to cook, but I wouldn’t enjoy being a kitchen slave in a restaurant. And neither do the cooking school graduates. However, they come out of cooking school like I came out with a computer science degree — both now have enough knowledge to start learning how to work in the field. In other words, we’ve learned how to learn — but we haven’t learned much yet. And I’m not a master chef in either field.
 Real review coming later. The short, three-word review: It’s very good.