Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring is Here!

Green garlic from the farmer's market heralds the spring

Friday Night Dinner

Last night, inspired by this recent post on one of my favorite cooking blogs, Dinner: A Love Story, I made baked beans from scratch to accompany some hot Italian sausages from Astoria's own Butcher Bar, homemade leftover-grain bread (I'll save that for another blog post/day), and a simple salad of kale and pecorino.

 Baked Beans (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
Serves 6

Two 15.5-ounce cans small white or navy beans
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a baking dish.  Drain and rinse beans and set aside.  Combine the last six ingredients well, then mix in the beans.  Turn out into the baking dish and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.  Stir and bake another 30 minutes, uncovered.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pulled BBQ Turkey

Well, it's finally happened: I have encountered something that the slow cooker can't do (besides wash and fold laundry, brush my teeth, etc.)  Behold exhibit A:

These big honkin' turkey dinosaur legs just wouldn't fit in my 3.5 quart cooker!  Soooo...a transfer was made:
...and it all worked out in the end.

Most excellent food-related wedding gift award goes to Betsy, for bestowing upon us this 10 gallon vat of Show Me BBQ sauce.  Essentially, a lifetime supply of deliciousness.
This stuff is The Best.  Makes everything taste better.  Probably even that potholder underneath the jug.  Yep.

Pulled BBQ Turkey Legs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 turkey drumsticks (about 3.5 pounds)
salt and pepper
2 cups BBQ sauce
1 15.5-ounce can red kidney beans

Preheat the oven to 300 deg. F.  Heat the oil over high in a large skillet and season the turkey legs liberally with salt and pepper.  Sear the turkey on all sides, one at a time.

Pour half the BBQ sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.  Transfer the browned turkey legs to the dish and top with the remaining 1 cup of BBQ sauce.  Cover tightly with foil and slow cook for 3 hours, until the meat is tender and pulling away from the bone.

Remove the drumsticks to a plate.  Once cool enough to handle, discard the skin, gristle and bones and shred the meat with your hands or two forks.  Return to the baking dish and mix well with the sauce.  Return to the oven for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the sauce thickens and coats the meat.

Drain and rinse the beans and toss in with the turkey and sauce.  Reheat for another 10 minutes until the beans are heated through.  Serve on toasted kaiser rolls with melted cheddar cheese, sliced pickles, and extra napkins.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Messy cupboards and why I love garlic

Ok, I'm feeling a bit random today.  Probably cause it's Sunday, so whatever OCD to-do list has been sitting in my head all week, patiently holding it together, is finally spilling out as a mess of house chores, random food alchemy, and disjointed musings.  Cool...

 Sitting here with a nice delicious cup of milk tea.  Here's how I make the stuff (and you should too!):

  1. Boil 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and add tea of your choice (loose or in a bag, who cares?)
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer tea for 5 minutes. 
  3. Add 1 cup of milk and heat on low for about 3 minutes, until the tea is steaming hot.
  4. Strain into a big ol' mug and sweeten to taste with honey (or sugar.  if you want to be that way. [behold my judging face])

Moving right along... remember how, just a few sentences ago, I mentioned OCD?  Speaking of, this is my kitchen cupboard, full of spices, beans, grains, pasta, tea, etc. - very, VERY messy by my standards, and driving me semi-batty... 

Moving on again! ...I was prepping the ingredients for some Moroccan spoon beef this morning, and I stopped to muse on the many wonders of garlic: O, Allicin.  Who is smellier than thee?  Who gets my nose running and my throat burning like you can?  In your raw form, you hurt so good, especially when your oils get into all the micro-cuts on my fingertips, into the dry-skin crevices between my fingers, but ours is a twisted relationship, and I love the short-term suffering for the long-term payoff, the flavors and the smells that waft through my house as the hours creep by and the slow-cooker rocks on.  *Sigh*

Told you I was feeling random.

Last bit before I dissolve into a total Sunday stupor: what the hell is Spoon Beef??  Well friends, spoon [insert meat variety here] is any piece of protein that's cooked so gently and for so long that when you remove it from the cooking vessel, you could do so with a spoon.  Now you know.  Here's how I'm making mine:

Moroccan Spoon Beef
Serves 8
3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-1/2 to 2 inch thick pieces
flour for dredging
1 tablespoon oil
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup Ras el Hanout**
1-1/2 to 2 cups dry red wine

Set a heavy skillet over high heat while you dredge the meat in the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper.  Add the oil to the pan and sear the meat, about 4 minutes a side, one piece at a time.  Place the seared meat in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Sprinkle the meat with half the spices, then pile the vegetables on top and add the remaining spices.  Pour in the wine and set the slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10.  Remove the meat to a platter and cook the remaining liquid uncovered on high until it reaches desired consistency.  Serve the meat topped with the thickened sauce and the vegetables.

**Ras el Hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
Makes about 1 cup
1/4 cup cumin seeds, toasted and ground
3/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup paprika