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Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

Freaking Huge Wings

There has been a lot of crappy weather lately.  When you work outside, you just need to treat yourself to a warm meal once in a while.  We were working only a few blocks from a restaurant that my boss, Steve, likes to eat at.  I’ve only eaten at Ray J’s a couple of times, but I’ve never had anything but great wings there.  Yup, you read that right.  I’ve never gotten past one item on the menu.  The first time I ate there, Steve recommended the wings and I haven’t looked back.

Ray J’s is your typical sports bar with plenty of seating for diners.  What sets them apart is their food (this is largely based on other people’s reaction).  In fact, Steve and I had a whole conversation about that (before construction, he managed a couple of restaurants).  The conversation started when I was commenting on the fact that they had a decent selection of wine and the special of the day was a baked brie.  Steve pointed out that these bars aren’t stupid and that by accommodating the wives (I know, stereotypes, but it’s based on statistics), they could increase their revenue.

Anyway, back to the wings.  I honestly have never seen chicken wings this big.  The first time I saw them, I was convinced that they were turkey wings that tasted like chicken.  I usually get the full order of wings (3 pounds!!!) and plan on having whatever is left for a snack later.  Okay, really it’s another meal.  I’ve had the Buffalo wings before and they are good, but it tastes just like Buffalo wings like everywhere else.  The ones that I had this time was the Asian Sesame wings which has a soy chili sauce and garnished with chopped scallions.  I liked the idea of this sauce and generally liked the taste of it, but it had an overpowering sweetness to it.  The flavor reminded me of a really good teriyaki sauce, but way too heavy on the sugar.  What I really like are the wings themselves.  Other than their freakish huge size, they are deep fried which gives the skin an amazing crunchiness that the sauce clings to and the sauce can’t penetrate.  Normally that would be a flaw in a dish, but since there is practically no distance between the skin and bone on wings (even ones this huge) you get a nice mouthful of sauce, skin, and meat in each bite.

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Yes, you’ll need a wet-nap.

 

Our New Favorite Chinese Place

I should qualify that a little bit.  This is our new favorite local Chinese restaurant, i.e. one that’ll deliver to our place if we so desire.  I probably need to clarify that even more.  I’m talking about Americanized Chinese restaurants and cuisine.  Granted, this is what you find by default, but with a little effort, you can find places that serve authentic Chinese fare.  But that’s neither here nor there at the moment.

New Fresh Wok is located on Larpenteur Ave, just off of Snelling in St. Paul.  They opened up sometime last fall and it took us a bit of time before we actually went and ate there, even though it’s less than two miles from our apartment.  The reason for the delay is that we were hitting a long string of mediocre Chinese restaurants in the area and we were not all that excited about trying another place just to be let down.  The other restaurants weren’t bad, but Lindz and I are used to being spoiled.  When we were living in Decorah, IA, we would frequent two really kicking Chinese places in town (yup, two great Chinese restaurants in a town with a population of just over 8000).  Of course, there is our hands down favorite Chinese place of all time, China Star, in Rochester (located a disturbingly convenient half mile from our future home and 2.5 miles from Lindz’s folks place).  That’s enough of the past.

This post/review is a compilation of a couple of visits, both eating in and getting take-out.

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First up, we have the Thai Styled Mango Chicken.  This was an okay dish.  It had an adequate level of heat to it, but for some reason the flavor was two dimensional.  The veggies were good but the chicken was mushy.  It reminded me of the chicken breasts that I accidentally bought one time that were injected with a saline solution to make them more tender.  It worked, but it felt like I was eating a sponge that kinda sorta tasted like chicken.  Even though the flavors weren’t there, I do really like the concept of this dish.

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One of Lindz’s requirements for a good Chinese place is good Crab Rangoons.  But since they are hard to find, she is willing to settle for Cream Cheese Wontons.  This is one of those tricky things to cook, with it comprising of only a few ingredients, you have to nail it every time.  New Fresh Wok passes with flying colors.

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Outside of Decorah, I haven’t been able to find a place that does a Mongolian Beef to my liking.  Much to my surprise and even more to my delight, New Fresh Wok offers up a really good version.  I like Mongolian Beef best with just beef, onions, and sauce.  They throw in a few more veggies than I would prefer, but it doesn’t detract from the dish.  It’s a nice dish with a salty, earthy base highlighted with onions, garlic, ginger, and, of course, the beef.

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My true test of a Chinese restaurant is a dish that is not even Chinese.  I am obviously talking about General Tso’s Chicken.  This is a dish that needs a teeth shattering batter, tender chicken, and a sauce that will make you thankful for the rice because it cuts the heat.  New Fresh Wok delivers on all of these accounts.  This is the fundamental reason why New Fresh Wok surged to the top of our favorites list.

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OK, I didn’t have the Orange Chicken, but Sheryl really seemed to like it.  Even though she thought it was light on the veggies.

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Naturally, we had to try out a selection from their sushi bar.  And, naturally, we went with the Dragon Roll that has eel and cucumber in the center and topped off with avocado and roe.  Not the greatest roll I’ve ever eaten, but for the price, it was worth it.  Hmm, apparently somewhere along the way I’ve become a total sushi snob.

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What would a Chinese meal be without some tea?  New Fresh Wok served the standard Chinese restaurant tea.  I’m not a huge tea drinker, so that’s all the info you’ll get out of me.  But I really like the tea pot.

If you find yourself in the Roseville area and are hankering for some good Chinese, drop in at New Fresh Wok.  You won’t be disappointed.

This One Is For The Adventurous Sort

This recipe is mind-blowing amazing!  I found it over at the Not Without Butter blog.  It is called Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.  If you like Asian cuisine, you’ll love this dish.

I tried it out on some chicken feet that I had in the freezer.  Yes, I had chicken feet around but no wings.  That’s how I roll.  And before you ask, yes, they are edible, and yes, they are quite good.  I do suggest that you peel off the skin, cut off the last knuckle, i.e. the claw, and give them a good wash.  Or if you’re lucky, your little sis will do all of this for you.

I’ll play nice and give you the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Chicken Wings, tips removed, drummies and flats separated
  • 3 Tbs plus 2 tsp Fish Sauce
  • 3 Tbs plus 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbs minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbs minced Ginger
  • 1 Tbs Veggie Oil
  • 1 Tbs Lime Juice
  • 2 Thai Birdeye Chilis, finely minced – I used dried chili peppers
  • Cilantro leave for garnish (optional)

Mix 2 tsp fish sauce, 2 tsp sugar, and the black pepper together and coat the chicken with it.  Let it marinate for a half hour.

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Cue the “Ewwwww!”

In a steamer, bring some water up to a boil and put the chicken in the basket.  Steam it for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  While the chicken is steaming preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Over medium heat, saute the garlic and ginger in the oil until they are crispy and golden.  Once that is done, strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and save the garlic and ginger in another bowl.

When the chicken is done, remove from the steamer and pat dry with some paper towels.  Brush the flavored oil all over the chicken and place them in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Flip everything over and bake for another 20 minutes.

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Looking better . . .

Once the chicken is done baking, drain them on a paper towel if necessary, and place in a large bowl.  Make the sauce by combining the remaining fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice.  Mix together until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the garlic, ginger, and chilies.  Pour over the chicken and toss to evenly coat.  Pile it onto a plate and garnish with the cilantro and serve.

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You have to admit they look pretty darn good at this point.

I went into this recipe with the knowledge that if I left the feet in the oven as long as you’re suppose to leave the wings, I’d end up with a desiccated mummy of a chicken foot.  Even though I drastically cut the time in the oven (7 minutes per side), the feet still ended up being over cooked.  I’m thinking of a couple of ways to get the crispy skin and not have them turn into leather.  One plan is to skip the steaming and just roast them, and the other is to steam them and just throw them under the broiler for a couple of minutes per side.  A benefit of the roasting that I wasn’t expecting was that the gelatinous nature of the feet was significantly muted.  I don’t mind that texture/stickiness, but it can get to be a bit much after a few feet.

All that aside, the flavor was wonderfully amazing.  The sauce had a nice punch to it which was rounded out by the freshness of the citrus, garlic, and ginger.  The fish sauce added a nice background note of earthiness that I associate with Asian cuisine.  All in all a very simple and very solid sauce.  I can’t wait to try this recipe on some wings!

I’ll leave with one of Mom’s favorite sayings:  “If you don’t like what I’ve made, go make your own supper!”

RI: Saltimbocca

The one non-seafood meal (other than lunch / snacks) that I planned for the trip was one that had caught my eye about a week before we took off East.  I had a hard time believing that I could be led astray with chicken, sage, and prosciutto.  Not surprisingly, I found the recipe in my copy of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.  Yup.  Love that cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C unbleached AP Flour
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 8 thin-cut, boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (about 2 lbs), trimmed of ragged edges
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh Sage leaves, plus 8 large leaves
  • 8 thin slices of Prosciutto, cut into 5″ to 6″ long pieces to match chicken (about 3 oz)
  • 4 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 C White Wine
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 Tbs Unsalted Butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh Parsley Leaves
  • Salt

Salty-hamy goodness.

The this-n-that which fills out the ingredient list.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 200 degrees.  Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish.

There really is no purpose to this picture. It’s just flour and pepper, but I bothered to snap a picture, so I’m bothering you by putting it here.

Pat the cutlets dry with paper towels.

Another pointless photo. This time it’s chicken breasts cut in half. Ooh!

Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess.  Lay the cutlets flat and sprinkle evenly with the minced sage.  Place one slice of prosciutto on top of each cutlet, pressing lightly to adhere and set aside.

This picture, which actually serves a purpose, I almost forgot to take it! Hence, the one corner of prosciutto that is folded up.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer.  Add the sage leaves to the skillet and cook until the leaves begin to change color and are fragrant, about 15 to 20 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the sage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.  Add half of the cutlets to the pan, prosciutto-side down, and cook until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes more.  Transfer the chicken to a wire rack (set on a rimmed baking sheet) and keep it warm in the oven.  Repeat with the two remaining tablespoons of oil and cutlets.  Transfer these to the oven as well to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

One big tray of happiness right out of the oven.

Pour off the excess fat from the skillet and stir in the white wine, scraping up the fond.  Simmer until it reduces to about 1/3 cup, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Off heat, stir in the parsley and season with the salt and pepper.  Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a platter.  Spoon the sauce over the cutlets before serving.

This is a great buttery pan sauce.  And surprisingly, fairly light.

The one glaring mistake that I made was using too much sage.  While in the process of making it, I knew I was using far more than the recipe called for, but I went ahead with it because I bought a package of fresh sage specifically for it.  The other option was to throw it away.  I should have went with my first instinct and follow the recipe.  Other than that, I think it turned out really well.  With the cost of ingredients, I’m not going to be making this all the time, but I would like to make it again in the near future.  Using the proper amount of sage, of course.

Another Beautiful Selection from Pizza Luce

This is from the last time that Lindz and I went to Pizza Lucé.  One of their specials of the month was a Thai Chicken pizza.  Being the lover of Asian food that I am, it was an easy choice.

Despite all the jalapenos, it was surprisingly mild in it’s heat.

This is a great combination.  I really wish they would put it on the regular menu.  It was a nice balance of what you would expect from something labeled “Thai.”  Crunchy peanuts with some heat from peppers (I know jalapenos are not the usual choice, but they worked) and some herby basil to round things out.

Guy’s Night

So my friend Ringer and I had a guy’s night when Lindz was out of town a while back.  I know what you’re thinking, “You’ve mentioned her before and unless something drastic changed, she’s still a girl.”  And you’re right, she is a girl,  but over the years she has proved that she has more testosterone than many males that I know.  Heck, she even went to my bachelor party.  So by definition, she is “one of the guys,” and therefore guy’s night is a legitimate option.  Anyway, we both love to try new foods and the best we could come up that night was a Brazilian rotisserie called Rodizio Grill.  We both decided to get the “Full Rodizio” which included the all you can eat salad bar and the gauchos (I know it’s a poor use of the term, but that is what they were called) with their spits of meat.  I’m not going to go into a full blown review like I did before because it was, well, a pain in the nether regions to write up.  I’m just going to give some brief impressions / highlights of the place.

We started off with a round of the salad bar, and I have to say, for the $20 price tag for that option, it is a bargain.  There was at least two dozen options of green salad, pasta salad, collard greens, cheeses, cous-cous, mozzarella salad, yucca salad, coleslaw, and bread.  I know I’m forgetting a bunch of stuff as well as low-balling the number of dishes.  Two of my favorites were the collard greens and coleslaw.  Not that I’ve had a lot of collard greens in the past, but these were best that I’ve ever tried, and Ringer, who’s had more than I have, also really liked them.   The base of the coleslaw was nothing special, it was just your basic creamy-style slaw, but they threw in shaved coconut and chunks of pineapple which pushed it into its own little realm of mouth magic.  The enthusiasm with this dish didn’t carry over to Ringer.  Oh, well, more for me.  We both decided that it would be well worth the trip again just for the salad bar.

The gaucho’s with their meat was an interesting experience.  We got a little hourglass shaped wooden marker with one half painted red and the other half painted green.  It’s a really simple system.  Green up, the gauchos will check if you want some of what they were offering.  Red up, they will skip your table.  On its side equaled “Check, please!”  You should check out their menu because it is quite extensive.  But here are some of highlights that we tried.  The Bife Com Alho (Beef-e Com Al-yo) is beef that is slathered garlic paste.  I mean slathered.  Even after it was cooked, you could see the layer of garlic that is still on it.  If you are a fan of garlic, this is definitely the dish for you.  My personal favorite of the tasty beef options.  The pork options were all very good, but nothing outstanding.  Without a doubt, my favorite chicken dish was the hearts served with a slice of lime.  They are called Coracao (Cor-da-sone).  The gaucho was quite kind enough to give me 3/4’s of a skewer.  He even mentioned that some people asked for entire skewers just for themselves.  The Abacaxi (Ah-bakah-shee), grilled pineapple, was to die for.  I’ve always been a fan of grilled pineapple and this was exquisitely done.

The best part of all of this is that it is that you can eat as much of whatever you want.  So my suggestion is to try a little bit of everything that sounds good and then get a lot more of whatever tickles your fancy.  A quick side-note is that they claim over 90% of their menu is gluten-free, and from what I saw that is completely true.

I would like to give a special shout-out to the gauchos and the floor manager who were extremely helpful in getting us what we wanted and making sure we were able to try everything that we wanted.  They definitely added to the experience.

Mmm. Happiness is chicken hearts.

Who is General Tso anyway?

The short answer is “I dunno.”  This is because the origin of the actual dish is lost in the murkiness of the 20th Century.  Assuming, like most claims that it is directly connected with General Zuo Zongtang (anglicized as Tso Tsung-t’ang) is pretty much a falsehood.  No one (at least according to a quick Google search) in China makes this dish.  Some come kind of close, but they do not have a sweet aspect to them.  I think it is telling that in General Tso’s hometown of Xiangyin, in the Hunan Provence, they are unfamiliar with the dish.  What does have the ring of truth to it is the origin story with Chef Peng Jia.  He was a chef that fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war.  In 1973 he moved to New York and opened a Hunan cuisine restaurant there.  He started off cooking traditional recipes and then began modifying them to suit the tastes of everyone who was not familiar with the flavor profile.  Which at the time was pretty much everyone since his was one of the first Hunan restaurants in the country.  There is even a claim that Henry Kissinger was a fan of this dish and had it regularly when he was in New York.  The long answer summarized is that it is an Americanized version of a Hunan dish which is, at best, named after a Qing dynasty general and civil servant.

Since the time of is mysterious origins it has become a staple of Hunan-style Chinese restaurants everywhere.  It is a dish that is so popular and simple enough that I use it to judge the quality of whatever Chinese restaurant that I’m in.  (I do the same thing with Reubens).  I finally took the time to scour through the internet and find a recipe that sounded like it had potential.  Being an Americanized dish, my Chinese cookbook resources were never any help.  I finally found one that sounded good and only called for ingredients that I had on hand.  (Seriously, how many people have potato flour in their cupboards?).

This recipe is from Siam Oriental Restaurant (that’s all the info the generic site gave me).  My notes on the ingredients are in parentheses.

Ingredients (Sauce):

  • 1/2 C Cornstarch
  • 1/4 C Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Garlic, minced (I used 3 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ginger, minced (I used a thumb-sized piece)
  • 3/4 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 C White Vinegar
  • 1/4 C White Wine
  • 1 1/2 C Chicken Broth, hot

Ingredients (Meat):

  • 3 lbs Chicken, deboned and cut into large chunks (can use either light or dark meat)
  • 1/4 C Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 C Cornstarch
  • Veggie Oil for deep-frying
  • 2 C Green Onions (1 bunch ~ 1/2 C)
  • 16 small dried Hot Peppers (I used 6 and very coarsely chopped them)

Mix the half cup of cornstarch with the water.  Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, half cup of soy sauce, vinegar, wine, and chicken broth.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and refrigerate until needed.  Next, in a separate bowl mix the chicken, quarter cup of soy sauce, and pepper.  Stir in the egg.  Add the cup of cornstarch and mix until the pieces are coated evenly.  Add a cup of veggie oil to help separate the pieces.  Deep fry the chicken in batches at 350 F degrees until crispy.  Drain on some paper towels.  Place a small amount of oil in a large skillet and heat until the pan is hot.  Add the onions and peppers and stir-fry briefly.  Stir the sauce and add to the skillet.  Place the chicken in the sauce and cook until the sauce thickens.  Serve with rice.

I had clumping issues when I mixed the cornstarch in with the chicken.  A better option may be to spread out the chicken on a baking sheet and dust it that way or just to simply grab each piece separately and bread it by itself.  On the whole, a decent recipe, but I think the next time I do this I’ll follow one of the other recipes that I found.  It just seemed like the flavor could have some more depth to it.

I forgot to take pictures while I was cooking, so all I have is one shot of the leftovers.

An interesting side note is the cornstarch and water slurry that is made in the first step is a non-Newtonian fluid.  More specifically, it is one type of non-Newtonian fluid called a dilatant.  Normal fluids have a constant coefficient of viscosity (or a constant rate at how the liquid wants to flow).  For example, water has a low viscosity which means it wants to flow easily while honey has a high viscosity and is very sluggish while moving.  In a dilatant the more stress you put on it, the more viscous it becomes.  So in plain english  this means that the cornstarch slurry will flow on its own if not agitated.  But if you try and stir it vigorously, it becomes “thicker” and harder to stir.  Another way of looking at it is that it starts to act more like a solid instead of a liquid.  For a very cool demonstration I defer to Adam and Jamie of MythBusters fame:

My favorite roast chicken plus a couple of new side dishes

This happened around a month ago, so the details are a bit sketchy in my brain.  I know someone came over and ate with us, I recently went grocery shopping, and I needed to use the chicken because it wouldn’t fit in the freezer anymore.  Other than that, make up whatever back story you want.  It probably will be more interesting than what really happened.  Just for the record, I’m not excluding the possibility of a ninja attack.  They’re sneaky like that.

So, the roast chicken recipe is hands-down my favorite one that I have ever done.  I try to do it on a regular basis since I can get great birds from Mom (she raises some for butchering every year).  The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef, one of my first cookbook purchases way back around the turn of the century.  Also one of my favorites that I constantly turn to first for ideas.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken, whole; about 3 lbs
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tbs each of Basil, Parsley, and Marjoram; mixed together (I use dried, if you use fresh go with a small handful of each and finely chop them)
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon; quartered
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbs of Rosemary (again I use dried, go with 2 sprigs if you have fresh)

Preheat the oven and a roasting pan to 425 F degrees.  Clean up any odd bits of the chicken, i.e. pin feathers, excess fat, anything that got missed inside of the cavity, etc.  Rinse the chicken, inside and out, and pat dry.  Rub the cavity with salt.  I usually use around a couple of teaspoons.  Gently grab the skin, breast side, by the neck and separate the skin from the breast.  The easiest way to do this is to poke a couple of fingers down in between.  Just be careful not to rip the skin.  The skin is attached better between the breasts, instead of trying to separate things, I just leave it as two tunnels.  Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt down in the tunnels, followed by most of the herb mixture and a drizzle of olive oil into each.  Stuff the cavity with the lemon, bay, and rosemary.  Tuck the wings under themselves and truss up the bird with some kitchen twine.  I won’t go into how to truss the bird because I’ve done it numerous ways and still haven’t found a method that I like and works well.  I’m assuming that it’s more user error than actual methodology.

Make a three or four shallow cuts into the thighs to help the heat penetrate (dark meat takes longer to cook than white) and rub in the remaining herb mixture you have left.  Rub the entire chicken with a little olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.  Remove the hot roasting pan and add a little oil.  Place the chicken on one side, breast down, and put back into the oven for five minutes.  Switch to the other side, again breast down for another five minutes.  Finally, flip the bird onto its back and cook for approximately one more hour.  When the chicken is done, let it rest for ten minutes or so.  That way the juices can absorb back into the meat instead of ending up on the cutting board.  The skin ends up nice and crispy, while the meat is juicy and flavorful.

For side dishes I adapted two recipes from the book I’m currently reading, A Mediterranean Feast by Clifford A. Wright.  I’m only about a hundred pages into it, but so far it is a great history of food of the entire Mediterranean area.  There is plenty of emphasis on the food of the poor (which doesn’t get talked about a lot, period) as well as the over the top feasts like when we think of de Medici’s and the like.  I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in food history.  The first recipe I did almost verbatim from the book, the second, well, not so much.

The first recipe that I did is called Salatat al-Malfuf from Syria.  It is a pretty basic cabbage salad, but I would like to make some tweaks the next time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head Savoy Cabbage (about 1 lb); damaged leaves removed, cored, and shredded
  • 1/4 C Sea Salt
  • 6 Garlic Cloves; minced
  • 2 Tbs Lemon Juice
  • 6 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp dried Mint (I didn’t use this because I didn’t have any, but I think it would be great in here)

Toss the shredded cabbage in a large bowl with the salt and let it sit for an hour.  Thoroughly wash the salt off of the cabbage by dunking it in water.  Taste a piece to make sure the salt is washed off.  Place in a clean bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.  Serve at room temp within an hour.

I like the idea of this recipe, but letting the cabbage sit that long with that much salt wilted the hell out of it.  I think the next time I do this, I will go lighter on the salt and definitely lighter on the time it sits.  Also, I think the “dressing” of lemon juice and olive oil could be cut in half because there was a lot sitting in the bottom of the bowl when everything was eaten.

The second recipe is called Col-i-flor from Catalonia (the very northeast corner of Spain).  Surprisingly enough, this is a cauliflower recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs Potatoes; peeled and cut to the same size as the cauliflower florets
  • 10 oz Cauliflower florets (about one small head)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp White Wine Vinegar

Place the potatoes and cauliflower in a large saucepan and cover with two inches of slightly salted cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook until both are easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a serving dish.  Mix the oil, vinegar, and salt to taste.  Pour over  the cauliflower and potatoes and mix, breaking them up a bit.  Serve immediately.

So that’s the recipe from the book.  Here’s how I did it:

  • I skipped the potatoes and just doubled up on the cauliflower because I had a very large head
  • I added a pound of fried and chopped bacon because everything is better with bacon
  • I ended up using 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar just to give it the punch I think it needed

Assuming that you just didn’t skip down to the end, here’s your reward for reading this really long post:

Well worth the effort in the kitchen.

My love affair with gizzards

I’m not entirely sure when my love of chicken gizzards came about, but I do know I’ve been eating them since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  When I was growing up we often ate meals over at Grandma Bert’s and Grandpa Nick’s place since they were only a mile down the road.  Very often we would have fried chicken because it was cheap and good.  Thank you Mom for raising chickens all these years.  Given that seven plus people were eating (depending on who showed up), getting the piece of chicken that you wanted made international politics look trivial.  Several tried and true tactics emerged though.  There was seniority.  “Don’t take the pope’s nose (the tail),  that’s Grandma’s.”  Getting there first, a la “I claim this land in the name of Spain!”  This usually applied to the wings.  The “let your little sister go first, ” or the baby of the family tactic.  The unspoken agreement:  “I’ll let you take the heart all the time if you leave the gizzard alone.”  That would be me and Chell.  Yes, we descended and devoured yard birds like a pack of wild, starving hyenas, but, hey, that’s family.  As you may have noticed, the “normal” cuts of chicken aren’t the ones we usually fight over.  People “settled” for the breast or the drummie or the thigh.

From last year’s butchering of chickens, Mom separated the hearts and gizzards and froze them separately.  I’m not sure why she didn’t save the livers.  A month or so ago, I swiped a chicken and a chunk of the heart/gizzard mixture.  As usual, I tried to save my home cooking that tends to gross people out for the times that Lindsay is working evenings.

First we begin with the innards:

The two best tasting muscles in the entire chicken.

Again, as usual, I decided to go with a pan frying approach since I knew I was going to be the only one who would be eating this.  Though I did offer some when Lindz came home.  Because I couldn’t think of a better approach, I went with a simple wash and flour coat.

Ooh! Flour and egg! Mesmerizing!

After a couple of quick dunks, into the frying pan they went.

Tell me to my face that this doesn't look tasty.

I did end up having to finish everything off in the oven because my breading was getting close to burning and the gizzards do take a while to cook through.  When in doubt,  serve potatoes.  Especially if you can make chicken gravy.

What do you mean I got a D- for presentation?

I know a lot of people can be put off by the idea of eating hearts and gizzards, but they really are good.  The heart tastes just like thigh.  It’s a little drier, because there’s no fat.  But if it is not over cooked, you would never notice.  The gizzard I can understand if people don’t like.  There is no fat here either, so it can get dry quickly and you definitely know you are biting through something when you eat it.  Not that the meat is tough, it is just a really dense muscle.  The connective tissue part (the white part in the first photo) is without a doubt chewy.  But for some reason that is one of the appeals for me, so I never bother to cut it off.  As Andrew Zimmern likes to say, “If it looks good, eat it!”

Categories: family, supper Tags: , ,

A day away from the Cities

Yesterday I took a much needed break from the Cities.  Unfortunately, Lindz couldn’t come along to Mom & Dad’s because she had to do TA work up at school.  It just ended up being a day trip, but it was worth it.  I know it sounds weird, but there are time I really miss the smells and activities of farm life.  When I finally pulled into the yard, the first one to greet me was the new puppy, Lucy.  She has an interesting story as to how she ended up on the farm.  After the last dog, Blackie, died, Mom was looking for a new farm dog and she wasn’t willing to spend the $100 for a Sheltie or Border Collie pup (her preferred breeds).  My uncle Art (Mom’s brother) really thought Mom should get a Red Heeler, but Mom wasn’t moving fast enough or something.  So as you can guess, Art bought a Heeler puppy for Mom.  That’s how Lucy came along:

Mom holding Lucy because . . .

. . . she normally looks like this.

And just for good measure:

Sara holding Lucy. Yeah, she'll hit me when she sees that I put her picture here.

You can’t see it in the photos, but Lucy has one blue eye and one black eye.  Freaked me out the first time I saw it.

Also, I went to see my Grandma.  If you’ve been paying attention, she’s the one who made the headcheese awhile ago.  She’s doing good.  Though she really, really wants to get out of the house and on her lawn tractor.  Dad needs to change the oil first apparently.  For the last decade or so, she’s had chickens that she’s always referred to as banty’s.  But when I was looking up the spelling, it said that banty’s are a mini version of a larger breed.  So I’m not sure what is going on here.  But her chickens look like Welsummers from what I can tell.

Whatever they are, they are pretty.

And one more picture before I go.  This one is of Art and his buddy, John, dragging one of the fields with Art’s team of horses.

Not the greatest image, but Art is really camera shy.

 

Categories: family, travel Tags: , ,