Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pear Tart on a tortilla

This is a really simple desert which you use a premade flour tortilla, kind of like cheating, eh?
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Lightly spray tortilla with cooking spray and place the sprayed side down on a baking sheet.
Meanwhile back at the counter peel, core and slice into lots of thin slices or just even slices so that they are all the same size so they cook evenly. You should be able to use one pear if it is a large one otherwise it may be two small ones.
(Apples will also work on this)

Take some butter and cut into thin pats and place over the top spacing evenly as possible.
Take some cinnamon sugar and sprinkle on the top.
Place into your hot oven and cook for about 15 mintues until you see the sugar bubbling and carmelized.
To make the glaze, take some jam and put it in a small dish, add the water and zap in the microwave to heat up, stir while doing it a couple of times. Remove and use to glaze the top of the pie.
To cut, use a long Chef's knife in one down motion otherwise you will tear the pieces. Serve warm with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Stuff you will need.

1 or 2 Pears.
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS butter into small pieces
2 TBS jam, Apricot or Orange

Keep in mind that it is not the best looking piece of dessert, since it is fast and quick. You could make it so all the pieces are perfectly cut, using a mandolin slicer. Or you can hire a food stylist to put it together for you. Then it will look like this photo.........
I never said I was a neat cook......

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Basic Chicken Stock! Don't throw those bones out!

Chicken stock is probably the main stock that you can use since you always seem to have chicken laying around with bones left over and is pretty easy to make.

What I usually do is toss the pieces that you do not use, pieces like the feet, chicken wing ends, neck, back and any other pieces or bones that you do not use. Once you get a bag full it's time to make stock!

Cut the onion into quarters, wash the celery and wash the carrots and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Place the bones, and vegis into a stock pot add salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil, once boiling reduce heat to simmer, cover and let it simmer for a hour or two.

Take a slotted spoon or mesh strainer and either remove all the boiled items or just strain the liquid into another pot or bowl.
Discard all the used up stuff.

You now have chicken stock.
Now if you want to make it clear, which is the mark of a serious cook, you first let it cool in the fridge overnight. Once the fat has solidified on the top, remove with spoon. You could use the fat for cooking if you like, or just toss it.

Next heat up the stock and strain through a cheesecloth lines strainer, if you are satisfied with the clarity your'e done.
If not, then separqate an egg and reserve the egg white ( use the yolk for some flan or scrambled eggs) mix cold water , the egg white and crush the egg shell into small pieces, add that to the liquid egg mix. Add the mix to the stock.

Bring the stock to a boil, remove from the heat and let it stand cooling off for about 10 minutes.
Strain again through a stainer lines with cheesecloth.

Your stock that is left should be very clear.

Use the stock for soups, one thing I do is freeze it either into small zip lock bags, flat in the freezer and the later use for soups and sauces. Some people will fill ice cube trays and then when frozen put them in zip lock bags.

Stuff you will need.

1 to 2 lbs of chicken parts
one large white onion
2 to 3 stalks of clery with leaves
1 Large carrot
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
6 to 8 cups of water
1 egg with 1/4 cup of cold water

You can also make a super stock from your left over turkey after Thanksgiving!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Basic Stocks, from whence the soup is born.....

Stocks are necessary for Good Taste

Stocks provide the foundation for a variety of dishes. They are very versatile and depending on how you make them they can be used in an infinite number of applications and recipes.
You have to use stocks as the building block to add more flavors for soups, sauces, and braises. Stocks are also used in poaching or steaming, a flavorful alternative to water in rice and polenta, and sometimes a substitute for oil in some pestos and vinaigrettes.

Stocks are made by cooking meat, poultry or fish bones, vegetables, herbs, and other aromatics in plain water for a real long time. When you finish you have a very flavorful and complex liquid. While the ingredients that go into a stocks may vary, the techniques used to make stocks and the mix of ingredients are basically the same.

It is extremely important not to allow stocks to boil as they cook.

This often causes impurities and fat to be dispersed in the liquid.

The fat is extremely difficult to remove after the stock is finished. And adds a lot of time to first chill the stock, remove the fat and then heat it up again to use it.
Instead, a stock should be simmered over a medium to low heat and every so often you should skim the top to remove anything that is floating on the top of the liquid.
The most popular stocks Light White, Rich Brown and Vegetable Stocks.

Light White Stocks

White stocks are made from bones that are blanched before they are combined with other ingredients. Blanching allows the impurities, which makes a stock cloudy, to be leached out before the bones are used. Usually only pale colored vegetables are used so no dark colors get into the stock (No beets here!)

Rich Brown Stocks

Brown stocks are like white stocks, but the bones and vegetables are roasted before they are put in the water and aromatics. Usually brown stocks have some tomato product and better brown stock has a rich and deep color and flavor.
Most of the time the stock making process is a long several day affair, with you removing the pot cooling it down completely, removing the fat which solidifies on the top, putting the pot back on the heat to reduce down and enhance the flavor even more.
The end product is usually a gloppy gelatinous syrupy mix, especially when cold, and has a potent concentration of flavors so that when you add a spoon or two to a soup , or sauce you can tell of it's lengthy beginnings! The Glop is called a Glace.
Glaces are often used as a sauce themselves or sometimes with a some other ingredients added to balance it out forming an nice rich sauce.

Hearty Vegetable Stocks

Vegetable stocks are often made from left over end pieces, peelings, and scraps from any combination of vegetables used in the kitchen. One thing a serious cook does is never toss out any trims, cuttings, tops, peelings of any vegetables. The simply was is to have a bin that after your cooking session ends, you take the trims, place them in a zip lock bag and freeze them. When you are read to make a vegetable stock you have oodles of stuff to which you fill the pot with. The only thing to be careful about is that you have a good balance of flavors, and not overwhelmed by one thing or another. A good vegetable stock has a little of everything not just 10 lbs of potato skins.....
The normal mix you should look for is onion, carrots, greens of some sort and some basic root vegetable. Do not use seeds as they impart sometime strange flavors.

Next Chapter, some basic stock recipes........

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Frijoles charros, Cowboy Bean Soup

I enjoy making soups because they are so easy to make and taste so good. They are also a good way to use up left overs, like chicken, meat cuts, left over steak or hamburger just lots of stuff! Most all soup start out the same, chopped onion then stock then the flavor and that's it. This soup is pretty basic, feel free to add your personal spice touch.

In a large stock pot toss the cut bacon on high heat and cook the bacon until crisp.

Reduce heat and add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft ( about 5 minutes)

Add the uncooked beans and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover.

Go do something for about 2 to, 2 1/2 hours.

Add the chilies, salt, and tomatoes. Increase the flame a little and continue cooking until the beans are fully cooked and tender, about another 30 minutes.

Check the seasoning and serve.

I usually will add a dollop of cream to the top and dig in.

Stuff you will need:

4 or 5 slices smoky bacon cut into 5 or 6 pieces per slice
3 cloves garlic, sliced into fine pieces
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 cups dry pinto beans , washed and checked for small pebbles etc
3 mild chilies like poblano, (fresh) or Ancho (dried) cut into 1/4 inch strips.
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced. ( if not peeled, not a big deal )
1 teaspoon salt.
8 cups water or chicken stock.

Chile info....
If you are using a fresh chile then roast it, on the flame until the outside skin chars, then put into a plastic bag for 15 minutes to steam. Remove from bag and under a running steam of water, peel the charred skin off. Remove seeds, remove stem and cut into pieces.

If hydrating a dried Ancho chile, put into hot water to cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then cut and use. Also remove seeds etc.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Red Pepper Chicken

My wife is picky when it comes to chicken dishes, she only likes it Rostisado or Beer Can chicken or a dish that the chicken doesn't taste like chicken....
This is one, and it is a tad more complex then just throwing a chicken on the grill, it takes a few extra steps but taste good. Total time about 40 minutes more or less. Less if you have do your advance prep.

Take the chicken and cut the breast into 1 by 3 or 4 inch strips, dust with seasoned flour, saute until brown on all sides, remove and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add a little more oil or butter, dump in the onions, mushrooms and peppers. let cook until the mushrooms have reduced. Add the sausage, in pieces after removing the casing.
Add the wine and chicken stock.
Reduce until the sauce develops ( or add corn starch)
Return the chicken to warm up, for about 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve on rice or Orzo, or with wide egg noodles.

That's it, not too bad.

Stuff you will need:
One whole chicken breast with bones removed. Remove skin also.
3 chopped shallots
1 Red Bell Pepper or your favorite chili pepper, roasted and skin remove, seeds remove cut into ribbons.
half pound mushrooms
Italian sausage or chorizo, as an optional flavor

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