Je Mange

“I eat therefore I am”– Culinary Genius

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mexican Feast

So we're planning to do some Latino cookin' for a while. Lately we've eaten at a delicious Ecuadorian joint in my old hood of Astoria. Also at a place in our current neighborhood a country style Mexican place.

Today I cooked refried beans, a chipotle-tomato braised chicken and pork dish and yellow rice. There is no recipe per say for any of these, just flavours, intuition and some care. A note about chipotle peppers; I used a caned version. These peppers are smoked jalapeños and canned with some delicious sauce. I cant remember the brand I use but there's a picture of a black haired Hispanic woman on the front with an orange background.

I used black beans but they say you can use pinto as well. Soak them over night. Sauté onions and garlic; add cumin, hot pepper powder, oregano, thyme and S&P. Cook out for a little then add the beans with enough water to cover about an inch. Bring to a boil and turn down to medium. Let it cook until tender adding water as needed. Once cooked blend about 2/3 of the beans until smooth and pasty; add the rest of the beans and mix in. Sauté some more onion, season as desired with anything from above and cook the beans until rather tight and pasty. You can do this in portions or by adding some a cup at a time. Taste and season.

For the rice I followed a basic pilaf formula. I used turmeric, S&P, onions, garlic, cumin, chicken stock and chopped tomato. It was a little under seasoned when cooked but you can always adjust it afterwards. It

The chicken-pork dish was just a simple braise. In the braising pot I sautéed onions, canned chipotle peppers with the sauce, garlic, red bell peppers and carrots. I seasoned it with cumin, allspice, thyme, bay leaves and of course salt and pepper. For liquid I used some chicken stock, a bit of corona I was drinking, some Pinot Noir and tomato puré. I then seasoned the meat with salt and pepper, dusted with flour and browned it in batches. Put everything in the pot, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until done. You'll have to remove the chicken first since it will finish cooking before the pork, generally. Afterwards I removed the meat and discarded the bay leaves and blended the sauce to make to make it thick and rich (also so that my girlfriend who has trouble with veggies will get her vitamins). If need be reduce the sauce further to proper consistency.

I served it with sour cream and a small salad of shredded red leaf with cubed tomato.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Shrimp & Scallops and Chips

My Partner Unit requested deep fried food for her birthday. This is a toss back to our vacations to Canada during which we'd chow down at roadside-seaside seafood shacks on the East Coast.

For this I used a beer batter that I learned in cooking school. I made scallops, shrimp and onion rings. You can either season the food items with salt and white pepper or season the dusting flour; if you season the flour make sure to over season it.

For the shrimp I removed all shell, tail, legs and intestinal track; it runs through the length of the body on the top side. Sea scallops sometimes come with a little hard piece of connective tissue on the outer side which is peel off. Dry the seafood well on a towel and season if desired.

Slice onions thinly, about 5mm; I only used the larger rings and saved the smaller center rings for other uses. For French Fries use russets; cut them fry shape however thick you like but make sure they're consistent. Soak the cut fries for 30 minutes in cold water. Par-cook them at around 250°F for 6 minutes without browning; if they start browning take them out immediately. Let then cool completely before cooking the final time; this step allows starches to come to the surface and will help give a crispy exterior.

I actually par-cooked the battered food aswell, until the batter was just set and ideally before developing the golden hue. I did this so I could toss it all back right before we were ready to eat, so that every thing's hot and crispy when sitting down.

5 oz Flour
1t Baking Powder
1t Salt
1t White Pepper
½ Egg
1 C Beer, very cold
Flour for dusting

  1. Heat oil to 350°F-375°F
  2. Sift your dry ingredients.
  3. Set up a plate or bowl with flour for dusting.
  4. Set up a cooling rack over a jellyroll pan or some device to place the fried food.
  5. Make sure you have tongs and/or a spider to manage the food in the oil.
  6. Beat Egg and mix with beer. Add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined; there should be some small lumps. Set the bowl in an ice water bath.
  7. Arrange your items in a logical, easy to maneuver, fashion (food->dusting->batter->fry oil->cooling rack).
  8. Work in small batches, whatever you're comfortable with.
  9. Cool or hold in the oven until ready to finish cooking; or just cook all the way until nice and brown.
  10. Once finished cooking season immediately with salt.