"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet." - Julia Child

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chorizo Stew

Chorizo Stew

Crock Pot, 6 Qt

3 12-inch Salvadorean Chorizo
2 cups of brown lentils
4 tomatoes, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 3-inch stick cinnamon
1 chipotle chili, rehydrated and minced
1 ancho chili, rehydrated and minced
4 3-inch sprigs of fresh oregano
4 3-inch sprigs of fresh thyme
1 6-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
2 fresh bay leaves
3 cans of chicken broth
Salt & pepper

1. Grease the inside of the crock with a little vegetable oil.  Tie the oregano, thyme, and rosemary into a bunch with butcher twine.

2. Dump lentils, vegetables, and the minced chilis into the crock.  Toss and mix.

3. Bury bay leaves, the herb bunch, and the cinnamon stick into the mix.  Add chicken broth.

4. Lay the chorizo on top of the heap and cover.  Cook on High for 6 hours, or on Low for 8 hours.

6. Serve hot with corn tortillas chips on the side.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Baked Salmon

1 4-6 oz. portion of salmon
2 1/8-inch-thick slices of lemon
1 tbsp fresh baby dill, chopped
1 tsp capers
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 12"x12" piece of foil
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper and sea salt

  1. Pat dry salmon, and season it with salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle olive oil in the center of the foil.
  3. Put salmon skin-side down on foil over the the olive oil. Move the salmon around a bit to smear the oil so that it generously covers the skin of the salmon.
  4. Spread garlic pieces on top of salmon.
  5. Lay down chopped dill on top of garlic.
  6. Sprinkle capers over the dill.
  7. Lay the lemon slices over the dill.
  8. Wrap the whole thing like a gift package sans ribbon and frou frou.
  9. Bake in 450F oven for 15 minutes.
  10. When time's up, do not unwrap package! Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the salmon in the wraps to encourage guest participation.
Recommended side dishes: skillet green beans in lemon butter and vermouth, rice pilaf with a hint of dill, garlic mashed potatoes.

Monday, August 04, 2008


DISCLAIMER: Cooking is an art and not an exact science. The measurements of ingredients below are mere approximations. Please feel free to improvise and substitute as you see fit.

This lasagna is based on Pot's Spaghetti Sauce from a previous post. Also, the baking dish needs to be at least 2 1/2" to 3" deep. The typical Pyrex glass 9"x13" baking dish is dangerously easy to boil over. If you want a thick lasagna, get a foil baking tray available at most drug stores.

6 cups spaghetti sauce
1 package of lasagna noodles (any brand)
1 16-oz tub of ricotta cheese
1 16-oz package of shredded mozzarella
1 bunch of Italian parsley, chopped.
3/4 cup Trader Joe's grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  2. Reserve 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese for topping.
  3. Boil 9 noodles in a pot. Drain and rinse the noodles when they are al dente. It takes 3 noodles to make one layer. If you want a fourth layer, boil 3 more noodles.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine thoroughly the tub of ricotta, 12 oz of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, and the egg.
  5. In a deep 9x13 baking dish, spread evenly on the bottom 1 1/2 cup to 2 cup of sauce.
  6. Take 3 noodle and lay it on top of the sauce. Long edge lining up with long edge of the pan. These 3 noodles should loose cover the surface of the sauce.
  7. Take 1 1/2 cup to 2 cups of cheese mixture and spread it evenly on top of the noodles.
  8. Take 2 cups of sauce and spread evenly on top of the cheese.
  9. Put 3 noodles on top of sauce.
  10. Spread 1 1/2 cup to 2 cups of cheese mixture on of noodles.
  11. Spread 2 cups of sauce on top of the cheese mixture
  12. Lay the last 3 noodles on top of the sauce.
  13. Top these last 3 noodles by sprinking the 1/4 cup of mozzarella and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan that you've reserved.
  14. At this point, your baking dish is almost full. Take a piece of foil large enough to cover the baking dish and grease one side of it with cooking oil.
  15. Cover the baking dish with the greased foil with the oiled-side down.
  16. Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes. If you want a crispy topping, uncover the lasagna at the 30 minute mark, and bake it uncovered for the next 15 minutes.
  17. After you take it out of the oven, let it cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
What to do with leftover ingredients:
  • Left-over spaghetti sauce can be served over pasta.
  • Left-over ricotta-mozzarella mixture can be used as stuffing for pasta shells and manicotti. You can also add a little salt and pepper, plus some fresh rosemary, and wrap it all in some puff pastry to make a blintz-like snack.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Magnificent Meals #1

This post inaugurates a new feature on this blog: Magnificent Meals. In these entries, we will be keeping a record of the best meals we've had, and what went into them. The purpose is both to commemorate happy occasions and tell us (and you!) how to repeat the experience.

Gourmet Lunch on a December Saturday

Following a long walk to Whole Foods and back on a beautiful, crisp, clear December day, we had:
- Herb-crusted D'Affinois cheese (from Whole Foods)
- Port Salut cheese (from Trader Joe's)
- Sockeye Smoked Salmon (from Trader Joe's)
- Trader Joe's Red Pepper Tomato Soup, stewed for a bit with fresh rosemary and basil
- Water crackers (from Trader Joe's)
- Duvel Belgian Ale (from Whole Foods)
- Fresh persimmons afterward (from the California Market in K-Town)

A cracker spread with the herb-crusted D'Affinois is spectacular with a piece of smoked salmon on top.

The Port Salut does not go well with the Salmon; the cheese overwhelms the flavor of the fish. However, Port Salut is great with the tomato soup.

We tried the Duvel on the recommendation of some friends of ours who took a tour of Belgium so they could sample the ales. It's good!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Quick Pesto Sauce

6-8 leaves of fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Toast nuts in medium dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Put everything in a small food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add some brown sugar if it's too sour for you.
  4. Serve on pastas and breads.

If you don't like the spicyness of raw garlic, try the following BEFORE blending the mix:
Toast garlic in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until softened and spotty brown, about 8 minutes; when cool, remove and discard skins.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Whole-9-Yard Bean Stew

Ok, Easter is over, and you've got a big hunk of ham you don't know what to do with. Here's how, in two parts:

1. Perform Surgery on the Ham:
Take a bread knife or a paring knife, and slice as much meat off the bones as possible. BE CAREFUL!!! Your hands will get also dirty and sticky, and yes, this is a lot of work. If you don't think you're skilled enough to wield a knife, find/kidnap a friend who can, and don't forget to reward him/her with food. The ham you can save is enough for sandwiches, kabobs, omlettes, etc..

2. What to do with the bone:
  • Put the bone in a large stock pot (i.e. 5 quart and larger), and fill the pot with enough water to fully immerse the bone.
  • Bring to a boil, and let boil for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium or medium low, cover, and let simmer for 2-3 hours.
  • Take the bone out, discard it, and save the stock for later. This the base of the stew that I will describe below.
  • As an aside, this thing has got to be the weirdest yet most useful invention from Asia. There are other brands, and I have a little one made in China. It makes soup and stocks in a fraction of the time and energy it normally requires. If you make a lot of soups and stews, or even pot roast, it's worth every penny in the long run.

3. The Whole-9-Yard Bean Stew:

  • 3 cups of lentils and beans. Soak in water overnight before you decide to make the stew.
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cous cous
  • 1 cup shredded ham scraps
  • 2 tsp each: rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage
  • 1 tsp each: mustard seed, celery seed
  • 1-2 heaping tbsp of brown sugar
  1. In a large stock pot, bring stock to a hard boil. Boil lentils, beans, and rice in the stock for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and let it remain on a slow boil for 1 hour.
  2. Put in potatoes, celery, onion, carrots, ham scraps, and all the spices. Bring to a hard boil, let boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the whole thing sit in a slow boil for another 1 hour. Keep stirring. Make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Turn off the stove, stir in cous cous, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in brown sugar, and add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve with some garnish of fresh parsley, and you can charge someone $6 for one bowl of this stew. Just kidding.

Ok, so that was a lot of work, but how often do you get a ham bone to work with?

Oh yes, you can get beans and lentil mixes at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. If you don't want to go through the trouble with the ham bone, chicken broth will do.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pears in Red Wine

2 pears
2 tbsp granadine
1 tpsp salted butter
2 cups dry red wine
  1. Peel and core pears. Half, then half again, then half again. Each pear yields 8 slices.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, thoroughly mix together red wine and granadine.
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat. Saute pears in butter for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Pour wine and granadine mixture into the sauce pan, and bring the mixture to a slow boil. Let boil for 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until sauce thickens and reduced to 1/2 cup.
  6. Serve pears and wine sauce on top of vanilla ice cream. A spig of mint makes it all pretty.