Ramja (kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce)

Posted May 14, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Stews, Vegetarian

Tags: , ,

Ramja is a Punjabi-inspired stew of kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella. It’s adapted from a NY Times magazine recipe. I like to serve it with white rice and/or a flatbread such as naan.

Preheat oven to 350o

1 large red onion, peeled
1-2 green chilis (serrano, jalapeño, etc) seeeded
1 TB oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled
1 tsp red chili powder
big pinch powdered cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, not drained
2-15 oz cans kidney beans, drained or 4 c of home-cooked beans
1 c diced mozzarella
¼ c white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
¼ c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c chopped cilantro

Cut the onion into quarters lengthwise. Slice 1 piece thinly and set aside in a small bowl. Put the other 3 pieces in a blender (preferred) or food processor along with the oil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chili powder, and green chilis. Process until not-quite pureed. You may need to scrape down the bowl and/or add a bit of oil.

Heat 2 TB of oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the blended mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 min until very fragrant and just starting to brown. Add beans and tomatoes and stir. Salt to taste and scatter the cheese over the top. Put, uncovered, in the oven and bake (without stirring) until bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, 30-40 min

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and water. Pour boiling water over the onion slices and drain after about 20 sec. Stir in the vinegar mixture. Serve, passing the onions and cilantro at the table.

Caramelized onions

Posted April 27, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Miscellaneous, Techniques, Vegetables/potatoes/rice, Vegetarian

Tags:

This is a very useful and tasty ingredient to keep on hand. It freezes perfectly well and can be used in so many ways–in omelets, on pizza, in salads, a topping for steaks and burgers, etc. It’s easy to make although you must be attentive to get good results. The long slow cooking completely removes the hard onion taste and results in a slightly salty, slightly sweet relish with plenty of umami. These freeze perfectly well.

The cooking process reduces the volume by quite a bit, as the photos show. From 2 qts raw onion expect about 1-1/2 c caramelized onions. You’ll need a heavy-bottomed 12 inch skillet with a cover. Allow about 45 minutes for the cooking.

2 quarts yellow or white onions peeled and sliced into thin half-rings
1/4 c butter, olive oil, or a combination
1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Put all ingredients in the skillet and bring to a moderate simmer. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, until most of the water is gone. Uncover, reduce the heat, and continue to cook. Regulate the heat–it will depend on your stove–to maintain a very gentle simmer. The water will soon be gone. Continue a very slow cooking action, stirring about every 5 minutes. The onions will continue to reduce and start to slowly turn brown. This is the danger zone–too-high heat or not enough stirring and the onions will burn, ruining them. Cook until the desired level of brownness is achieved. The photo shows a medium brown but you can cook a bit longer for a deeper brown with more intense flavor.

Savoy scones

Posted April 9, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Baking

This recipe has an interesting history. It originated at the French Culinary Institute in NY City where our daughter-in-law took the pastry course. She fiddled with it to get it just as she liked. Then my wife got it and fiddled some more. Low calorie? No, duh! Delicious? Oh yeah!! We usually eat them just plain, but for an extra treat, serve with some best quality preserves.

scones

Ingredients for 12 to 15 scones

Preheat oven to 350° (original recipe).  My oven is 365°

Combine in large bowl:

325 grams all-purpose flour (11-1/2 oz or appx. 2.5 c)
20 grams baking powder (appx. 5 teaspoons)
45 grams granulated sugar (appx. 3-1/2 tablespoons)
Pinch of salt
110 grams chilled unsalted butter (¼ lb or 1 stick), cut in small cubes
130 grams dried fruit such as currants or cranberries (appx. 4-1/2 oz)

Note: If you are using dried apricots or other large dried fruit, chop it into pieces about currant-size. If the fruit seems too dry, plump it in warm water before using.

Combine in measuring cup and whisk to combine:

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Heavy cream to bring total volume to 225ml (appx. 7-1/2 oz.)

Procedure:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl
  2. Cut the cold cubed butter into the dry ingredients until it is the size of dried lentils. If the butter is cut up too much, the scones will not be as flaky
  3. Add the dried fruit to the flour mixture
  4. Add the egg/cream mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix until a dough forms, but do not overwork the dough – it should be soft and just come together. Note: the dough is quite dry and barely sticks together.
  5. Pat or roll out the dough until approximately ¾ inch thick
  6. Cut the scones into the desired shape and place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  7. Brush the scones with additional cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar
  8. Bake the scones at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms and around the edges. You may need to adjust the baking time and/or temp to suit your oven.

Special instructions

  • The scones may be cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter, or into squares or wedges.
  • The scraps of dough can be reused once but will lose some of their delicate texture.
  • The raw scone dough may be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for several weeks.

Mediterranean-style lamb shanks

Posted March 23, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Lamb

Lamb shanks are one of our faves, and this is a lovely way to do them. Za’atar is a spice mixture that has been used for ages in the middle east. There is no one fixed recipe for it, but the three base ingredients are thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac. Middle Eastern markets will carry it and of course you can get it by mail order. A pressure cooker is ideal, but not required. I serve this with rice or couscous.

4 lamb shanks trimmed of excess fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 c pitted and halved kalamata olives
1 TB za’atar
1/2 c dry red wine
1/2 c beef or chicken stock

Pat the shanks dry, salt and pepper then and dust with some flour. Brown on all sides in a bit of olive oil. Remove from pan. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft. Add olives, wine, and stock and return shanks to pan. Sprinkle za’atar over all.

To pressure cook: Bring up to pressure using the high setting (if your cooker gives a choice). Cook for 1 hour, let the pressure release on its own for 15 min., then release the remaining pressure manually. Remove the shanks and keep warm. Boil the liquid down rapidly until it is the desired consistency. Skim off excess fat if needed. Spoon some sauce over the shanks and pass the rest at the table.

Regular cooking: The steps are essentially the same as above, but simmer gently for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Check the liquid now and then and add more stock if needed.

Porridge bread (oat bread)

Posted March 16, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Baking, Bread

This is the best oat bread I have ever tasted. It makes marvelous toast and great sandwiches. I will warn you, it is not a bread for novices as it requires some judgement based on experience.

bread

2 c porridge (oatmeal) – see note below
5 c all-purpose flour + extra if needed
1 envelope yeast (2-1/4 tsp)
2 tsp salt
3 TB maple syrup or dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c plain mashed potatoes
½ stick butter cut in pieces and softened
1 c warmed milk

Note: Put 1 cup oats and 2-1/4 c water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until almost tender. This will take maybe 12 min for steel-cut oats and less time for rolled oats. I don’t recommend the instant kind. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for at least 10 min. Let cool before using.

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for a few minutes. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, which it probably will, add more flour until the dough clears the sides but still sticks to the bottom. Make sure the bits of butter are being incorporated.

After 5-6 min, turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead by hand briefly to form a compact ball. Put in a greased bowl and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto the counter again and divide in 2 equal parts. Knead each part and form into a log about 8 inches long. Place each log in a greased loaf pan (I use the standard 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch size) and let rise until the dough is above the lip of the pan by about ½ inch. Bake at 350o for 30-35 min. Take out of oven and brush the top with oil or melted butter. Let the bread cool in the pans for 10-15 min and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

 

Chicken gravy without a chicken

Posted March 4, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Miscellaneous, Poultry, Sides

When I roast a chicken, I really  like to have gravy with it. But you won’t have the carcass to make stock until the chicken’s been eaten, and in my experience there are never enough pan drippings for good gravy. There’s no need to resort to the jarred stuff, here’s how to make your own before you cook the chicken. I use wings for this because, weight for weight, they have more skin, and they are usually cheaper than other cuts. You can finish this recipe in a slow cooker, on the stove top, or in a pressure cooker.

2 to 2-1/2 lbs whole or cut up chicken wings (about 12 wings)

Put the wings in a single layer in a roasting pan and pop into a 450° oven. Roast undisturbed until the wings have turned a lovely dark golden brown. Remove the wings to your stock pot, don’t worry if some skin sticks to the roasting pan.

If more fat has accumulated in the roasting pan than you want, pour it off. Put the roasting pan over low heat and add 2 c water. Bring to a gentle simmer while using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the lovely bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid into the stock pot.

1 large carrot in big chunks. No need to peel if the carrot is clean.
1 celery rib in big chunks
1/2 a medium (baseball size) onion cut in 2 pieces. No need to peel if the onion is clean.
2 halved garlic cloves, unpeeled (optional)
1/2 tsp rubbed sage OR 1/2 tsp dried thyme OR 2 bay leaves (optional)
6 whole peppercorns
Big pinch of salt

Put all the above in your stock pot and add water to cover by about an inch. Cook as follows:

  • Pressure cooker: Cook for 1 hour once the cooker has reached pressure. Let pressure release on its own for 15 min then release the remaining pressure manually.
  • Stovetop: Bring almost to a boil and then cook, partially covered, at a gentle simmer for 4 hours.
  • Slow cooker: Cook on the high setting for 10-12 hours.

Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove most of the solids. You can pick the meat off the bones for your dog or cat if you wish, but otherwise discard–99% of the flavor has been cooked out. Strain the liquid thru a fine-meshed strainer. If there’s more fat than you want, use a fat separator to remove it.

This recipe makes 2 c of gravy. You can scale it up or down as needed. Leftover stock can be frozen almost indefinitely. If you have saved some of the chicken fat, you can use it in place of the butter. For a cream gravy, replace 1/4 c of the stock with half and half.

2 TB butter
3 TB all-purpose flour
2 c stock

Melt 2 TB butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir over medium-low heat until completely combined. Add 1/4 c stock and stir until you have a smooth paste–the mixture should be gently bubbling through all this. Continue adding stock in 1/4 c increments, stirring each time until completely smooth. A small whisk is ideal for this. Once you have added 1 c of stock, add the rest all at once. Stir and simmer until completely smooth and thickened. Taste for salt and correct if needed.

Plaki (Greek fish in a pouch)

Posted February 17, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Seafood

There used to be a wonderful Greek restaurant in our town that served the most delicious plaki. When they closed we decided to try to develop our own recipe. This is what we came up with, and while it strays from the traditional recipe a bit, it sure is good! And it’s a great dish for company. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juice, a green salad, and (of course) white wine.

The amount of vegetables can be varied. You can use less, say 1/2 c per fillet and you will get the flavor, or as we like to do about 1-1/2 c per fillet and you will have your veg dish cooked along with the fish.

You can use any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as cod, haddock, snapper, flounder, etc. Try to get fillets that are about 1 inch thick.

Preheat oven to 400o

Four single serving-size fish fillets, or 2 larger fillets cut in half crosswise
Thinly julienned fennel bulb, onion, and carrot (see note above)
½ c roughly chopped kalamata black olives
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices

4 sheets of parchment paper, each large enough to wrap 1 fillet

Mix the julienned vegetable and the olives in a bowl. Use roughly equal amounts of fennel, carrot, and onion—it’s not critical—but we are fennel-lovers and always add extra. Dribble with olive oil, maybe 2 TB, and season with S&P. Mix.

Place 1 fillet on each piece of parchment and season. Mound the veg mixture equally on them. Drizzle with a bit more oil and lay 2 lemon slices atop each. Wrap up the parchment paper and secure with wooden toothpicks. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 min. Place 1 pouch on each diner’s plate, cut open with scissors, and serve.

Variation: Add ½ c drained, diced tomatoes and/or 2 cloves minced garlic to the veg mixture.

Mexican chicken enchilada casserole

Posted January 7, 2020 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Poultry

Greatly simplified by the use of a jarred enchilada sauce. Homemade tortillas are best, but not necessary.

About 12-6 inch corn tortillas, preferably home made
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Adobo seasoning (preferred) or chili powder
1 small or ½ large green bell pepper
1 medium onion
2 cans red or green enchilada sauce (you may have extra, which can be frozen.)
1 small can chopped jalapeño peppers, or 2 fresh
1-12 oz package shredded Mexican cheese blend

If you have a sous vide gadget, dust the chicken with adobo seasoning or chili powder. Seal in the bag and sous vide at 165o for 90 min. Remove from bag and shred. Set aside.

Lacking a sous vide, poach the chicken in gently simmering salted water for 25 min. Remove to bowl and shred, then dust with adobo or chili. Set aside.

Seed the bell pepper, peel the onion, and dice. If using fresh jalapeños, seed and mince.  Sauté all in a little oil for a few minutes. If using canned jalapeños, add them at the end. Set aside

Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a 12” square casserole. Cover with a single layer of tortillas, cutting to fit as needed. Distribute 1/3 of the chicken, 1/3 of the pepper mixture, ¼ of the cheese, and enough sauce to just cover. Repeat 2 more times. Finish with a layer of tortillas, then sauce, then the remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at the middle level in a 350o oven until bubbling around the edges, about 40 min. Let cool for 10 min before serving.

Roast game hens with red rice and fruit stuffing

Posted November 29, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Poultry

Red rice has a slightly nutty flavor that works perfectly in this recipe. Cooking it like pasta–lots of water–gives the best results.

2 Cornish game hens
Salt, sugar
1/2 c raw red rice
1/3 c raisins or currants
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c chopped celery
1/4 c chopped onion

Remove giblets from the birds and put them (the birds!) in a soup pot. Add cold tap water to cover the birds, measuring the water as you go along. Remove the birds and add, for each quart of water that you used, 1/4 c kosher salt and 2 TB sugar and stir to dissolve. Return the birds to the brine, make sure they are fully submerged, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Bring 4 c water to a boil and add 2 tsp salt. Add rice, stir and lower heat to a simmer. Start checking after 30 minutes, and when done to your liking drain thru a strainer and set aside in a bowl.

Put the pine nuts in a small saute pan over medium heat. Shake the pan frequently and when toasted to a light brown add to the rice. Add a bit of oil to the same pan and saute the celery and onion for about 5 min. Add to rice along with cranberries and raisins. Mix well and taste for seasoning.

Remove the birds from the brine (discard brine) and pat dry. Stuff the cavities (you will likely have some leftover stuffing) and tie shut with small skewers and kitchen twine. Tuck the wing tips under the body and, if necessary, tie the ends of the drumsticks together. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast at 375 for about 90 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer in the thigh and when the internal temp reaches 165 remove from oven. Let rest for 10 min before serving.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory cabbage pancakes)

Posted October 20, 2019 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Miscellaneous

Tags: ,

Okonomiyaki is, in essence, just a fancy, savory cabbage pancake. In Japan it’s available in many regional variations—you’ll hear about Hiroshima okonomiyaki, Tokyo okonomiyaki, and so on. This relatively simple version should, I guess, be called Okayama okonomiyaki because that’s where my wife’s cousin lives (it’s her recipe). It is served with okonomiyaki sauce and traditionally eaten with hashi (Japanese word for chopsticks) and a small metal spatula for cutting. And, of course, white rice and a selection of oshinko (Japanese pickles)! Our approach is to put a large electric skillet on the table and cook as we go along, but you can cook in the kitchen and keep warm in the oven.


1 c low protein flour such as White Lily or cake flour (not self-rising).
1 c water
½ lb small peeled shrimp, thinly sliced pork chop, chicken breast, or a combination
3 c thinly sliced (as for coleslaw) freshest green cabbage
1 egg
½ c bean sprouts
½ c slivered scallions

Mix the flour and water, making sure there are no lumps. Beat in the egg. Mix the cabbage, sprouts, scallions, and shrimp/meat in a large bowl. Add the flour slurry and mix well.

Heat your skillet to medium-high and add some vegetable oil, just a thin layer. When the oil is hot, add the cabbage mixture in about 1 c dollops and use a large spatula to flatten each into a pancake about 3/4 inch thick. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, then flip. Continue until cooked thru, but not mushy, and remove to a plate. Continue with the remaining cabbage mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve hot with the accompaniments mentioned above.


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