Friday, March 26, 2010

I love to barbecue .... but...

I love it when spring starts.

We fill the propane tank and start finding excuses to use the barbecue. Beyond the regular grilling of various meat products; we steam vegetables in foil-packets, and by summer I'm cooking with the cast-iron skillet on the barbecue just to be outside.

Last night, however - I wasn't so enthused with the barbecue.

I bought 24 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs from my butcher (La Preference) at a good price.

They marinated overnight in a delicious recipe of black bean paste, Thai chili paste, mirin, and olive oil.

And then I put them on the grill.
After a few minutes.
They exploded into flame!

A brave volunteer got them off the grill as quickly as he could without burning himself. The flames were incredible. All the fat and skin was seared, but the meat within was still raw. Wait a minute. ... fat and skin .... and the recipe calls for trimming and I didn't do it.

So I put as many as I could in pans and cooked them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. The five that were still raw & un-singed (because I couldn't fit them on a grill) took 40 minutes to cook. I threw-out the worst 5 because they felt solid when I pressed on the upper part of the thigh (but still bled red).

My error (I realize now) was stretching the marinade with olive oil. I should have used stock or water instead. The poor bird parts were edible, but the flavour of the marinade was a soft under-note beneath all that smoky flavour.

The recipe is a good one, and one I intend to keep making - but maybe next time, I'll reduce the olive oil. Just a tad. And skin & trim the chicken.

I served it with a salad of mixed greens, a light cesar salad dressing, and baked new red potatoes. It was surprisingly well received and the butt of many jokes.

Barbeque chicken thighs in black bean sauce
Original recipe available on Kalyn's Kitchen blog.
Modified for the barbecue & to reduce salt and remove citrus from the recipe.

Serves:4 Doubles well, although you will run out of marinade.

12 bone-in chicken thighs

2 tablespoons Black Bean Garlic Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Thai Chili Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon mirin

  1. Use a sharp knife to remove skin and trim all visible fat from chicken thighs.
  2. Cut small slits lengthwise so the marinade will penetrate the meat.
  3. Mix marinade ingredients, then put chicken pieces in single layer inside large Ziploc bag, pour marinade in and let marinate for 6 hours or more in the refrigerator.
  4. When ready to cook, remove chicken from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while the barbecue preheats.
  5. Arrange chicken on the upper grill, keeping as much marinade clinging to the chicken as you can.
  6. Roast about 40 minutes, turning several times and brushing with remaining marinade.
  7. Chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer shows the meat is 160 F.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Watching Dinner confidential

So Fayfood, my favourite food blog, has branched out into a you tube channel called Dinner Confidential. The episodes are a bit slow in coming out - but feature two women (Fae and Kelly) who are currently helping a very busy family of four figure out how to get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time and maybe even eat together once a week.

Their previous story involved helping Kelly's daughter start cooking. I wish I could say the idea of someone who would not buy vegetables or roast something was new; but not everyone loves to cook and this episode (in several parts) they come up with a few different things for the daughter to try and are carefully non-judgmental about her choices. They want her to enjoy cooking, and not do it because it's a chore.

The episodes are short (well under 10 minutes on average) and pretty chatty. Neither Fae nor Kelly are afraid of giving opinions, but they're honest about it.

What I really enjoy is that this is a cooking-advice show that focuses on what's real. They're is no professional kitchen with perfect results every time. There's no immaculate set nor are the hosts immaculate in the way they present themselves. Instead you have two real people who care about what they're trying to do. They don't want the food to be fussy, or bothersome; instead they want it to be healthy, quick, and easy.

It's great lunchtime watching.

A recipe that was sort-of mentioned brought to mind something Fae suggested on her blog a while ago. It's a great and highly-scalable recipe that comes together in about 40 minutes without much tending.

Her version is here.

Serves: 6

12 sausages, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tin cannellini beans, well rinsed
1 tin tomatoes, pureed
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or sage
2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove of garlic, smashed and diced
1 onion, finely diced

  1. Sear off the sausages in a hot pan. Drain any excess oil.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, and sage. Stir to incorporate.
  3. Add a can of pureed tomatoes and deglaze the pan.
  4. When this has cooked for a good twenty minutes, add the beans, and other seasonings.
  5. Allow to boil down for another 20 minutes. Serve hot over bread, rice, or polenta.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu for the week of March 21, 2010

I planned this week pretty well. Sunday I made bread, roasted chicken, and... didn't quite getting around to cooking the baked beans. They were actually cooked on Monday. The bread mostly came out OK and set the tone for my week. It's been mostly OK.

The seasonal cold has retreated into the background, and my fridge now overfloweth with leftovers again and my freezer is full-to-bursting. Tuesday's dinner was technically unplanned (it would have been Easter Monday Ham & Cheese Bake, but I went for deli-bought fried chicken instead). I have a bad habit of going in and changing my weekly menu on Springpad about twice or three times before the week is out. Officially I never plan dinners on Friday or Saturday night.

Friday night is my night out - if I've not already ordered in or brought in take-out during the week. Saturday I shop, so dinner is as much determined by what's on sale that day as by what's available in my fridge/freezer/pantry.

I do inventory on Wednesday, write my menu on Thursday, visit the butcher/deli on Friday and the bulk store/vegetables/everything else on Saturday. Then I tweak the menu again on Saturday to better match what I have/have bought.

Toast & almond butter
Keller's Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Vegetarian Baked Beans
Hony Oatmeal Bread

Breakfast toast & Almond butter
Leftover Keller's Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Spice-rubbed BBQ Flank Steak and Cesar mixed-leaf salad

Breakfast egg sandwich with cheese
Leftover Black beans & rice with Baked beans
Fried chicken, sweet-potato fries & leftover Cesar mixed-leaf salad

Breakfast oatmeal
Leftover Keller's Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Lemon-pepper white fish & risotto

Breakfast musli
Leftover Black beans & rice with Baked beans
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Black Bean Garlic Marinade with Mixed-leaf salad and vinagrette dressing for 6.

Toast & almond butter
Leftover Baked Beans, rice & Steamed Vegetables
Hosin chicken rice bowls

Breakfast egg sandwich
Lunch roast chicken, fresh bread and salad
Dinner: TBD!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black beans and rice - to nice to be mild

Some nights, I just want something hot and filling for dinner; and I don't really seem to care what that contains. There's a specific texture I'm looking for--silken without sauce--that always comes to mind when I think of rice and beans. I think it's a perfect dinner for any night. My SO thinks its bland. We live in two different worlds of taste. He's a fire-eater and I, alas, am not.

So this is my non-fire-eating version, which he thinks is just OK. More for me!

I like making beans from scratch, but in the spring--when the beans take 2+ hours to cook, being that they are so very old, I use canned. I drained 1 can of black beans and 1 can of navy beans and rinsed the beans well. This gets rid of a lot of salt, and I've always found the thick bean liquid in cans rather disgusting.

Once well-drained, I carefully diced up a yellow onion, red bell pepper, chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, two-ounces of medium chorizo, and 4 garlic cloves. I warmed olive oil in a pan, then added the onions and bell peppers, stirring occasionally until the onions wilted.

Then I added the rest of the vegetables. I cooked the rice separately (in water). When it was done, I added the beans and rice to the pan along with 2 cups of home-made chicken broth. This replaces the bean cooking liquid required by the original recipe and adds a lot of flavour.

Stir well to incorporate, add the spices, and allow to simmer. The cooked rice will absorb a lot of the liquid. If it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and uncover to allow the steam to escape. Serve it hot topped with cilantro and lime.

1 cup dried black beans (3 cups cooked)
1 two-ounce link chorizo, diced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarseley chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, diced
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup white rice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil; add the rice, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes more. Fluff with a fork and then spoon some rice into each bowl.

2. Drain the beans. Dice the onion, pepper, and garlic. Heat the oil over medium-high in a large sauce pan, and add the minced vegetables, chorizo, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften somewhat, about 5 minutes. Add the drained beans, cilantro, cooked rice, and 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook off any extra liquid.

3. Remove the beans from the heat and stir in the lime juice and top with cilantro. Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Menu plan for the week of March 14, 2010

Menu Plan MondayWhat a week! The weather has become warm and spring-like and the colds are finally lifting from my house. There's lots to do this week that didn't get done last week (being sick is not condusive to doing chores); and the week is perfect for baking (not too warm and not too cold), so I'm going to make cookies this week and try to squeeze some bread-making in on the weekend.

Typically I have less than a serving left over after dinner. So, I just dump them in a container and put it in the freezer. Most lunches are the contents of one or two containers combined. I realized earlier, while talking to a co-worker - if I actually layered my leftovers rather than just dumping them in a single container - I could call my leftover lunches a "bento" again. They'd probably be a lot more appetizing to look at too.

Not many links this week, as most of the recipes are pretty straight forward.

snacks: I have a lot of choices for snacks this week as we did a run to the local Cosco recently.
taco chips (remainders from a party on the weekend)
mixed veggies & dip (leftovers from a party platter on the weekend)
pita chips & hummus (neither of which is homemade)
yogurt & flax seed
apples (always)
granola bars
rice crisps

The menu:

Toast & almond butter
Crab pasta salad
Leftover Lentil and sausage soup
Breakfast oatmeal
Leftover chili, spaghetti & salad
BBQ hamburgers with The best and simplest green salad by Mark Bittman topped with Red wine and feta vinaigrette
Breakfast musli
Taco salad Leftovers
Steamed vegetables with Black Beans and Rice, My Way
Breakfast oatmeal
Chicken salad sandwich and soup
The best and simplest green salad with red wine vinagrette
BBQ New York Strip steak & Mashed Potatoes Gratin
The Whole Wheat Tollhouse Cookies
Breakfast musli
Lunch Bento
Chinese Buffet - for 4
Toast & almond butter
Lunch Bento
Shawarma sandwich with rice & salad - for 6
Breakfast egg sandwich
Lunch roast chicken, fresh bread and salad
Dinner: TBD
Event: Draconis Game Day