"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Cajun Blackened Seasoning

    Two weekends ago, my wife asked me for a Cajun style Blackened Seasoning mix for a recipe she was working on. Turns out she was preparing fish tacos. I’m not a real fan of fish, unless it is catfish, breaded and fried, but these were quite exceptional. I’ll coax the fish taco recipe from her, but in the meantime here is the seasoning mix I built.

  • Dahl Bhat with Chicken

    The recent Winter Storm Stella has me going in an entirely different direction. Like straight up … As is straight up a mountain in the high Himalayas. When on thinks about what you see in all the mountain movies about the Himalayas. Himalayas, gurka’s, Curry and rice

    Dhal (Lentil Curry) is usually a soup, this time made with our Asian chicken stock. But as always, we’ll look at some dried red peppers, or maybe serve with a hot pepper / vinegar finishing sauce on the side…

    One could forgot the rice and serve over orzo, or perhaps riced potatoes, or even just with a couple of slices of crusty ciabatta.

    Background

    Dahl bhat is a traditional South / Central Asian and staple dish which is essentially rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). This is a very common food in South Asian countries specially Nepal. In general eaten twice a day with another (usually spicy, maybe hot /sour) dish called tarkari which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian..

    The recipes vary by locality, ethnic group, family, as well as the season. Dal generally contains lentils (different types are used according to taste), tomatoes, onion, chili and ginger along with herbs and spices such as coriander, garam-masala and turmeric.

  • Irish Toasted Cheese

    As I have been working on my bread, and baking almost every day, I find myself with the issue of too much bread.

    I’ve stuffed loaves of Ciabatta into every backpack that has entered the lair, smuggled baguettes into the backseat of every car, and provided bags of rolls to the neighbors.

    Time to start producing some posts to use that abundance.

    As it is almost St. Patrick’s day, I am sure an Irish themed post would be appropriate. But I DETEST corned beef, and do not say that is caused by my not having a special brisket, or having it prepared a special way… (I’ve corned my own briskets …)

    Sooo, Toasted Cheese, Irish toasted cheese… True comfort food. Then again not just “normal” grilled cheese, I hate “white bread” and loth “spreadable cheeses”. (Yes, I am still having intense nicotine cravings.. So pardon my intense distaste for many things..)

    From Wikipedia:

    Uncooked cheese sandwiches simply require assembly of the cheese slices on the bread, along with any additions and condiments.

    A grilled cheese sandwich is assembled and then heated until the bread crisps and the cheese melts, sometimes combined with an additional ingredient such as peppers, tomatoes or onions. Several different methods of heating the sandwich are used, depending on the region and personal preference. Common methods include being cooked on a griddle, grilled, fried in a pan or made in a panini grill or sandwich toaster (this method is more common in the United Kingdom where the sandwiches are normally called “toasted sandwiches” or “toasties”).

    When making grilled cheese on an open griddle or pan, one side is cooked first, then the sandwich is flipped and cooked on the other side. The sandwich is finished when both sides are toasted and the cheese has melted. Butter, oil, or mayonnaise may first be spread on either the bread or the cooking surface in the case of butter and oil. An alternative technique is to toast or grill each half of the sandwich separately, then combine them.

    When using butter best results are achieved at a medium heat. This prevents the milk solids in butter from burning and allows sufficient time for heat to thoroughly penetrate the sandwich and melt the cheese without burning the bread. A crispy golden-brown crust with a melted cheese center is a commonly preferred level of preparedness. Cooking times can vary depending on pan dimensions, ability to control the intensity of the heat source, bread type, cheese variety and overall thickness of pre-cooked sandwich.

    There is only one pan for this, CAST IRON, if one is good, two are better. For this what is needed is two cast iron griddles, or a heavy cast iron skillet and a griddle. Similar to this:

    One Note: These are great heat “batteries”, so when handling, USE KITCHEN MIT’s or POT HOLDERS.. When hot they are branding irons for the unaware..

  • Peach Cobbler

    Just another day in paradise…. Long Day, many crises, and rain as I wait at the taxi stand. But what is that smell, sweet and enticing, so familiar, but I can’t place it..

    Looking around, I see a fruit vendor, and on his cart are Peaches! The smell is wafting over, strangely made stronger by the rain… I had though a quick chopped BBQ sandwich for dinner, but now …. Hmmmmm, Peaches, Cobbler, Ice Cream …. I may just be a day in paradise after all..

    Maybe I’ll do the sandwich as well, but setup a nice little desert to go with coffee afterwards..

    Cobblers:

    Deep-dish fruit desserts in which sweetened fruits (fresh berries or apples are the traditional choices) are topped with a biscuit dough before baking.

    Varieties of cobbler include the Betty, the Grunt, the Slump, and the Buckle. Grunts, Pandowdy, and Slumps are a New England variety of cobbler, typically cooked on the stove-top or cooker in an iron skillet or pan with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings—they reportedly take their name from the grunting sound they make while cooking. A Buckle is made with yellow batter (like cake batter), with the filling mixed in with the batter.

    In the matter of the Cobbler, the Betty, the Grunt, the Slump, and the Buckle, let the trumpets blare, the banners fly high, and the hosts assemble, for this may be the single most contested point in all of culinarium, hotly contested, many battles joined, but with no final victor..

    All that said, I still think of a buckle when you say a cobbler. The difference in my mind is the fruit used and the time of the year your make it.

    As for today’s post I’ll hazard the slings and arrows of culinary fortune and look at another early summer fruit.

    When early summer fruit starts arriving, I have to make a cobbler. It is a simple and rustic dessert recipe, you can use any kind of fruit that is around, the ingredients are pantry staples and it freezes fabulously. When I make cobblers, I usually make two, one to serve and one to keep in the freezer for a quick thaw and serve desert. Blueberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, all are delicious in a buckle.

    The Team …

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  • Texas Style Chicken Fried Steak

    CountryFriedSteak

    Being raised in Texas, and living in New York can be quite the challange for my taste buds, while I get to experience a whole world of flavor and taste sensations, I do get the cravings for the more simple fare of my youth. One all time favorite is Chicken Fried Steak with cream (sawmill) gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits.

    From WikiPedia:

    Chicken fried steak (also known as pan-fried steak, CFS or country fried steak) is a breaded cutlet dish consisting of a piece of steak (tenderized cube steak) coated with seasoned flour and pan-fried. It is associated with Southern cuisine. The dish gets its name from the fact that the steak is cooked in oil that has already been used to fry chicken. Country fried steak is different in that it can be cooked with any kind of oil.

    Chicken fried steak resembles the Austrian dish Wiener Schnitzel and the Italian-Latin American dish Milanesa, which is a tenderized veal or pork cutlet, coated with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs, and then fried. It is also similar to the recipe for Scottish collops.

    Now these folks talk about a tenderized cube steak, and given my tenancy to to avoid any processing I do not do myself, we’ll look at this from a different point of view.

    Let start with a chuck roast or round roast and cut slices with the grain to ~1/2 inch thick. Then get absolutely medieval with a meat tenderizer or the back of your chef’s knife until the slices are ~1/4″ thick and limp as a wet noodle, or until your arms give out.

    Now we have our tenderized steak, we can cook.
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  • Baked Cheese

    On my way back from a client in Brooklyn I passed a new establishment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where I found a very nice little appetizer of baked cheese.

    The restaurant / lounge was less than packed so the owner / chef had a few minutes to chat. Of course, we all know who wheedled the recipe from him, and chatted about some possible addins..

    Consider the well seasoned 12″ cast iron skillet, black, heavy and with it’s own baked on non stick surface. Now add cubed cheese, some olive oil, (my first add / change, bacon drippings or bacon cubes browned off in the skillet), thin sliced garlic, seasonings, and of course herbage. This is then baked until the cheese melts, bubbles, and browns.

    This is then served bubbling hot, with a selection of thin slices of crusty french baguette, (Toasted and not toasted) and maybe the chunks of browned bacon on the side.

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