Sunday, July 3, 2011

Documenting some recent meals

As I said, one purpose of this blog will be to document meals. Let me sketch out a few recent meals here, before I forget them. Mostly notes to self but hopefully also transferable/usable information. No photos this time around but now that I have a blog to be responsible to, I should be able to muster the discipline to pull out the camera before digging in next time.
•Mesquite smoked chicken, smoked on a bed of árbol chiles, sea salt, and bay leaves. 
Oil a cookie sheet and line to cover it with bay leaves and de-stemmed árbol chiles. Salt chicken halves generously and arrange skin-side down on the sheet. Get a slow smoke on on the grill and turn the flame low. Smoke for one to two hours. The oils from the chiles and bay leaves blend and give the chicken skin a deep, almost Szechuan flavor. I served it with garlic mashed potatoes and bbq grilled zucchini and eggplant.
•Coriander smoked duck breast.
Same preparation as above. Substitute whole coriander seeds. Tasted great with mesquite but would probably taste amazing with plum wood. I served this on homemade sourdough naan-bread with tomato jam (I made with tomatoes from Johnson's Garden) and green tomato raita (made with the green tomatoes in my yard). I'll post an entry on my sourdough naan technique some time in the near future. 
•Green tomato raita.
Fine dice one large green tomato, half of an onion and one bunch of cilantro. Toast one Tbsp of coriander seeds on the comal, ground and add to a quart-minus-one-cup of yoghurt. Mix all ingredients and salt to taste. 

•Costillas con verdolagas en salsa verde (made with purslane from the yard!)
Braise pork ribs and slow cook in chicken broth with onion and epazote sprig to flavor broth. Make a simple green salsa (comal-roasted tomatillos, garlic, onions, green chiles & fresh cilantro) and gently blanch purslane. Cook ribs in salsa verde with purslane added. Salt to taste and serve with mash potatoes or rice.
•Finger-food sized pineapple slices served Mexican style with fresh lime, Hawaiian smoked sea salt, and fresh árbol chile powder.
Best snack food ever. Also good with jicama, cucumber, mango, etc..  But there's something magical, alchemical, about the specific combination of fresh pineapple, chile, and smoked sea salt.
•Amaranth greens and potatoes in a creamy curry. 
Heat a pan and add a generous Tbsp of ghee. Add mustard seeds, let pop, then add ground coriander, cumin and ground fenugrek, toast a bit, then add turmeric powder and fennel seeds. Remember to go light on the spices, compared to a regular curry. After 30 seconds or so add diced onions, a few slitted green chiles, equal amounts of pureed ginger and garlic. Add more ghee, always generously, and scrape bottom of pan before adding greens (cleaned and chopped) and potatoes (diced and pre-cooked) and a half-pint of cream. Simmer for 5 or 10 minutes. Salt to taste and hit with a generous dash of garam masala. I make mine by grinding Tellicherry black pepper, green cardamom, a clove, a stick of cinnamon, cumin and fennel in a coffee grinder. It comes out a little differently each time as I don't measure the ratios, but I enjoy the new variation each time. My favorite version is heavy on the pepper and the cardamom and has a clean almost soapy quality to it. I made this dish last week with amaranth from the yard and it came out beautifully.

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