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I don’t have a picture for this one.  A few weeks ago, I made  hominy and beans with green & red chilies, which is such a wonderful combination,  it would be a treat any day of the week.  I happened to mention it on my facebook page- and an amazing number of people said how much they liked the idea.

This recipe starts with ground pork (you can use almost any ground meat.  You can also entirely skip the meat, and it will still be a wonderful meal, with balanced amino acids, for vegetarian cooks).  However, you have to get the onions & garlic started first.  Chop a medium onion & a clove or 2 of garlic.

I went to the supermarket & picked out:

-1 Anaheim pepper (is that the same as ‘hatch’?,  or is that New Mexico?)  It’s often an elongated, sweet, light, green chili that sort of commands your attention)

-1 poblano- maybe not as warm as the Anaheim, but it packs a different, pleasant kind of heat.  This is where the dried, smoked Ancho pepper comes from.  Also excellent.

-1 jalapeno ( some are hot, some are not.  Unpredictable in the supermarket, so grow your own.  HOWEVER, one plant is capable of producing a quantity of fruits with varying levels of heat!  That’s what makes jalapenos interesting.)

If you have a grill, a gas ranged-oven, or a cast iron frying pan- it doesn’t matter what-, put each pepper over the fire.  Caramelize it, scorch it, burn it.  Well, please don’t actually burn it- I was exaggerating.  As you singe each pepper, put it in a paper sack, or in a bowl with a plate on top, so all the steam stays inside.  For this recipe I removed the skins- it can require some patience;  and you will also have burnt spots on your peppers, which makes all the flavors come together.

I spent a summer cheffing at a local 4- or 5 star restaurant- fancy place & pretty much a fun place to work.  I had the job of prepping pizza dough for individual pizzas, on the seasonal menu. Everything in that place was made from scratch- I had to shape them, get them quickly in & out of the oven; and then they went on to their final pizza destiny.  One time, I thought they had browned too much & lamented that I had burnt them.  Chef Beth took a cursory glance and announced:  Those aren’t burnt, those are caramelized.  CHARGE EXTRA!.

To return to the recipe:  Brown 1# of pork in some minced onions and garlic.  Just use a small amount of olive oil to first soften the onions, and then the garlic.  Garlic scorches easily, which is both good and bad.  In this case, before it gets too dark, add a pound of ground pork over medium heat, and make an even layer of meat that you can turn and cook quickly.

Then add about 2 Tbsp of good ground, dried red chili, or a good chili powder.  Also add an equal amount of masa harina or cornmeal, along with a tsp of salt, and generous amounts of fresh, ground black pepper.  Add a tsp of ground cumin and a tsp of crumbled dried epazote leaves (or Mexican oregano).

As this cooks and becomes fragrant, add about 32 oz of canned white hominy, and 16 oz of your favorite canned bean (drained, rinsed- even though you will lose some vitamins).  Keep everything over low heat for a good 10-15 minutes and you will have a decent hominy with red & green chilies.

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If you’re new to fried-pies, let me tell you I’ve been making hand-pies for many years.  It’s a pie, you can hold it in your hand, and it is deep-fried.  I love making them, but I usually end up making some kind of peach filling, because it’s hard to hold a candle to a peach handpie.  You can use any filling you want-anything that you can imagine going into a regular, big pie in a pie-pan.  Just use a spoonful.

I cut a 9″- round of pastry into 3 parts (almost like a peace-symbol) and put a good tablespoon of filling in the center of each, one at a time.  Then I cut them into half-moons, crimping firmly with a fork all around the edges, and cutting a couple of vents- and I dropped them into 375F peanut oil.  They cook completely in 3-5 minutes.  However, you will need to turn them at least once, preferably with some kind of spoon or spider (don’t puncture them now).  When they’re golden-brown, you can safely assume they’re done.

For peach filling I chopped up about

1-1/2 cups of frozen peaches and added approximately,

1/3 cup of raspberries I had in the refrigerator

8- 12 Tbsp brown sugar (I use about 1/2 cup)

3/4 tsp cinnamon

generous 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

pinch salt

1 heaping Tablespoonful of Bird’s Custard Powder (it’s my secret ingredient in so many pies.  I am weak)

squeeze of lemon juice

some lemon zest

1-1/2 tsp Balsamic vinegar (you read that correctly-just try it & you will genuinely like it, I promise); just use a supermarket Balsamic

Mix it all together and do not cook it. This is the filling and you can mix everything together in 2 minutes with a small bowl and a spoon.  I have a small, electric deep-fryer, so I only cook one pie at a time.  It requires a little patience, but the result is something you don’t just see everyday.  Dust them with powdered sugar- even though they don’t need it.

Let them cool, don’t burn your mouth- but you’re a lucky person if you are standing near the stove when they come out of the fryer.

cookbooks!

Exactly one year ago the Dubious Citty Katt (that’s how the local press referred to her in print- honestly) twisted my arm to start this food blog.  I confidently said at that time that I’d share my favorite cookbooks.

For a year I’ve haven’t been sure how to do that, particularly since I learned as a child that we have to keep our  promises.  For one thing I have 3 or 4 bookshelves full of cookbooks.  Really big shelves.  (Please click on the photo if you don’t believe me).

Some books are large and colorful, some are sort of clinical;  but with most of them I would be happy to sink into a chair and just read it like a novel.  One of my favorite aunts proudly and happily admitted that very same thing to me one day in her kitchen (when I was in high school), where I was perpetually hanging out (and do not end sentences with prepositions please).  Everyone EVERYONE loved Aunt Jane’s cooking- and she taught me pie crust- along with my mom and grandmother.  Now, how will I describe my cookbook collection after all my big words.

About 130 a month guests come to this blog, which is amazing, Thank you for visiting.  And I finally figured out how to tell you about my cookbooks.  I describe this blog as a post-modern excursion into ‘food, Native foods, and omni-cuisine’ (or something like that). So I have created 12 completely arbitrary and capricious categories and I’ll list 2 examples of my favorite books in each one, also capricious and arbitrary.  I’ll try to do a cookbook gazette every once in a while until everyone tells me to stop (but please give me at least two chances.)  I hope you all get to look through some of them sometime.  There are more.

Native:

–Native Harvests, Barrie Kavach – a compact, clear volume that has a surprising degree of detail about pre-Contact food preparation practices

–Cuisine of the Water Gods, Patricia Quintana.  This is a beautifully produced book, not only rich in authentic cuisine and history, but a pleasure to read.

Colonial

–The Early American Cookbook, Dr. Kristie Lynn & Robert W. Pelton.  A gift-shop cookbook that has a wealth of surprising information about early cooking techniques.

–The Williamsburg ART OF COOKERY or, AccompliB’d Gentlewoman’s COMPANION:  Being a Collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia COOKERY*

[* a ‘B’ here indicates an S-tset, or Double SS, so this is not a misspelling]

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

–Mrs. Beeton’s COOKERY BOOK.  Look it up for yourself, it’s revelatory.

–Classic American Cooking, Pearl Byrd Foster.  This woman is one of the fountainheads of modern American cuisine awareness.

Classic American

–James Beard’s American Cookery.  A cookbook that I never tire of reading.  He’ll tell you how to make Hangtown Fry, a maple glazed doughnut, or Scrapple without batting an eye, with sheer pride of American food traditions.

–Masters of American Cookery, ed. Betty Fussell.  Here is a recent and reliable look at the emerging consciousness of food in the US.

Comprehensive  Cuisine

— Joy of Cooking (aka Joy), Irma Rombauer, Marian Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker.  There are many editions and iterations of this classic.  I have a double set of paperbacks, as well as a battered 1-volume version.  They all look like they have weathered a category 3 hurricane.

–Mastering, etc, Julia Child, Volumes I & II.  Ditto, category 4 hurricane.

Vegetarian

–Laurel’s Kitchen, Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, Bronwen Godfrey.  A brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

–The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (Revised), ed. Louise Hagler.  A little-known, brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

Baking

–Beard on Bread, James Beard.  This is Beard at some of his best.  No wonder they named a national award after him.

–The Art of Baking, Paula Peck.  This volume deserves to be much more widely known and used by everyone.  This is where I learned how to make Genoise and Viennese specialties.

World Food

–Delightful Thai Cooking, Eng Tie Ang.  A very helpful and correct introduction to a favorite ethnic cuisine in the US and world food scene.

–Flavors of India, Madhur Jaffrey.  This is another one of my severely battered cookbooks.  It was a Christmas present from my parents many years ago, and I’m surprised the binding is still holding together.  This author has produced more fine books than I can count.

Reference

–Chilies to Chocolate:  Food the Americas Gave the World, Nelson Foster, Linda Cordell.  A brilliant analysis, critique and meditation on the role of Indigenous foods in world history.

–On Food and Cooking:  The Science & Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee.  One of the undisputed bibles of modern Gastronomy- the marriage of aesthetics, cuisine and science.

Desserts

–The Art of Viennese Pastry, Marcia Colman Morton.  This slim volume, written by the wife of a diplomat, harks back to the twilight of the Habsburgs, and a world before the onset of Post-modernity.

Gourmet’s Best Desserts, the ed.s of Gourmet

Food Writers

—Memories of My Life, Auguste Escoffier.  Brilliant European food history.

–As They Were, MFK Fisher.  Brilliant American food history.

Quirks

–The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, Alice B. Toklas.  Don’t make the brownies.

–The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker.  A comprehensive walk through the food world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, well worth reading.

In the 1200’s, the Scots crowned their monarchs in a chair made out of stone in the parish of Scone, and which was said to have been the pillow of stone upon which Jacob rested his head in the desert & saw the angels ascending and descending the ladder of heaven (there is quite a long back-story to all of this).  Of course Edward I of England (aka Edward Longshanks, aka Hammer of the Scots) had to have it.  So he took it, put it in Westminster Abby , and there it remained until Christmas Day 1950, when a station wagon from Scotland pulled up and a little band of men neatly stole back the sacred Stone of Scone.  Well, that was only 600 years in the making- and years ago I was thrilled to learn that somehow the Freemasons were even rumored to have got in on the act.  Scottish Rite, presumably.  A recent movie has been made  – The Stone of Destiny, which I haven’t yet seen.  The government in London was flummoxed.

So scones are actually Jacob’s pillow, and like other internationally famous pastries with political or civic origins (cf Croissants- which celebrates the Battle of Tours in the 700’s BCE. Sacher Torte, or Hamantaschen, which is Haman’s 3-cornered hat- or Lady Baltimore Cake), we can eat one and contemplate history at the same time.

To make my blueberry and walnut with apricot scones please collect the following ingredients:

2 c flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Cut into these dry ingredients 6 tbsp cold butter.  I like to use my fingers to do this, until about half of the butter is as fine as meal- and the other half is uneven little shreds and bits.  This will help make your scones tender.  Don’t be afraid to do this with a food processor or a pastry knife though.

In a measuring cup whisk together a 1/2 cup of cream (I used half-and-half) with a large egg, along with some grated lemon zest (orange zest would be an excellent alternative)- I would say up to a tsp of zest.

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Put everything in the mixing bowl and begin to quickly, gently fold everything together with your clean hands until the whole thing is a crumbly mess and looks hopeless.  Patiently encourage the dough into a coherent whole, making haste slowly.  I like to pat out the dough into a 9″ circle on a pastry cloth or board and then cut the circle by 12.  That’s a mystical number, right?  Befitting a mystical pastry.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet, and for added richness & color, brush with a little cream or beaten egg- and then sprinkle with a little sugar if you’re not in a hurry.

Heat your oven to 425F and bake for about 12-15 minutes

Cactus-pear & pinion-nut ice cream.  I’ve never seen it anywhere, so I thought I’d create it.  Flavored with 2 other more-or-less Native ingredients:  Vanilla & cannela (True Mexican cinnamon- an import).

2 c cold, heavy cream (I use 1/2 & 1/2- don’t use whipping cream or you’ll get butter)

A cup of rich milk, also cold

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

Whisk everything together gently, dissolving as much of the sugar as possible.  Chill-  even overnight.

Meanwhile peel and strain a cactus pear through a food-mill (I love my Foley Food Mill).

While you are doing all of this, also very carefully toast some pine-nuts for a few minutes.  The desert cactus produces a beautiful, brilliant fruit; and pine-nuts (pinions, or pignioli) have always been a staple of the tribes from the southwest Basin, all the way to California.  With cactus, pinions and vanilla, this is a very Indigenous interpretation of ice cream.

Now, we need chocolate.  This photo is ice cream by itself.  Pour some kind of chocolate sauce over the whole thing, and you will be adding the final Indigenous ingredient.  Maybe add some chocolate chips?

I have been focusing too much on sweets.  OK.  Next, vegetables.  We can be healthy at the same time :

Freeze the cream mixture in an electric rotating ice cream freezer & then add the cactus pulp and cooled pine nuts

Today my friend Gary & I made strawberry jam at his house- the fruit was 24 hours out of the fields.  These are no ordinary strawberries- they will knock you unconscious with the beauty of their perfume.

Quite a few years ago, I was told that the northern arc of Lake Calhoun in present day Minneapolis, long before European settlement, was a sort of United Nations.  Tribes traveled from around the region to take part in treaties and negotiations.

That was also when I learned for the first time that some of the tribes from here customarily serve strawberries at ceremonial functions and important meetings, with the admonishment that when we eat strawberries together, we are all obliged under sacred law to speak the truth to one another.

When we were very young, my brother, sister & I used to go out and pick berries for HOURS in the hot summer sun.  Out in the country where we grew up, the supply was endless & these berries from Wadena, Minnesota are miraculously as good as those childhood wild strawberries from Daggett, Michigan.

click on any photo for an up close & personal view