Archive for March, 2012
I had first heard about pimento cheese from Jane and Michael Stern‘s Road Food segment on the Splendid Table (wow, that’s a mouthful). After hearing about the stuff, I was curious and wondered how to get my hands on what I learned was a one those rare remaining regional (Southern) creations. So I was excited to finally give it a try.
So what is pimento cheese? At its most basic, it’s cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos (yeah, those red flecks from olives),and salt & pepper, but additional ingredients can pop-up. The mixture can be either blended to a smooth paste or choppily mixed together.
The mixture Iggy brought back was chipotle pimento cheese, with a little bit of heat added to basic ingredient outline and was on the coarse side of the mixing style. Keeping it simple, and classy, we ate this new fair onto some Ritz crackers. And the Ritz cracker were prefect–their crispy butteriness amplified decadent fat going on in the cheese (we also tried it on some of fancy, and neutral, little cheese toasts to get a baseline).
Now that I’ve had it I want more. While part of me is ready to organize a second War of Northern Aggression to get my hands on the stuff, I might just settle for making it at home. If I can get my hands on pimento and a decent recipe, it seems easy enough. I just keep wondering what else I could do with this cheese. Grilled cheese? Burger toppings? Deep frying?! If I pull of any of this, I’ll be sure to post!
Sloppy Joes always remind me of grandfather–it’s where I got “Untidy Josephs.” I can picture myself, as a child, at a table, Untidy Joseph in hand over a plate of baked beans, laughing at his cheesy jokes.
But, while this cooking stirred-up memories of my grandfather, I think its inspiration came from my healthy lunch. After eating a nice modest salad, my mind and stomach conspired to balance everything out with some meat packed bread. After a little internet hunting, I stumbled on the following.
What you’ll need:
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can small red beans or pinto beans, preferably low sodium drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 burger buns (or bread)
Brown the meat and the onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Drain the pan. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and red pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes more.
Well, I made a slight error. I was wrongly convinced that we had a tomato sauce at home. Since it was already 9:20 or so by the time I discovered my mistake, I decided to improvise by putting a can of diced tomatoes into the food processor. I think I was on the right track, but I didn’t adjust the amount of “sauce” and the mix was a little under sauced. We managed to fix the under sauce problem somewhat adequately with ketchup.
Overall, paired up with some baked sweet potato fries, the Untidy Josephs were pretty good. The recipe is on the path to being a chili, but the molasses adds that needed sweetness. The red pepper and jalapeno gives nice little busts of fresh and sweet. Forget that Manwich!
When I try this again, in addition to making sure that I have tomato sauce, I want to try turning up the spice just a bit with something more that jalapenos. I think those two things would take this dish from a solid weekday meal to something I crave.
Sixpoint is one of those breweries that my roomie Nick and I trust implicitly. If I see a new brew of their’s I have to try it, knowing I’ll probably like, if not love, what I drink. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that early in the week both Nick and I showed up at home, on the same day, having interdependently stopped by a bodega, seen Resin (the new Sixpoint brew, which neither of us had heard about), and brought it home.
It’s an American Double/Imperial IPA with a 9.10% ABV and IBU of 103. Serving type: can.
[As an aside, the following link is a GREAT visual depiction of the relationship between different kinds of beer: http://popchartlab.com/collections/prints/products/the-very-very-many-varieties-of-beer. WARNING: before you click be prepared to spend 30-45 minutes looking at the graphic. I'm seriously thinking about buying the poster, framing it, and putting up in my kitchen... or my office. Okay, on with the Resin talk.]
Appearance: When first poured, it has cloudy copper color. But, if you can managed to hold off on drinking it all for 20 minutes or so, the cloud clears to a clear amber rust.
Smell: Hops and yeast. I have a bit of a cold at the moment, so there might more hiding in there.
Mouth: Very hoppy, but very well balanced. There is some up front hoppy-sweetness that fades to a nice roasted hoppy finish. When I say finish, I mean finish–the stuff coats your mouth (almost like resin?) with long lingering flavor of hops that makes you want another sip. The texture is a high octane mix between crisp hops playing/battling with thick.
Overall: I’m a big fan. It’s strong and hoppy, no doubt, but somehow also balanced enough for easy drinking. I think it would pair great with any meats coming off the grill. There is not a lot of complexity, particularly compared to Sixpoint’s Sweet Action; Resin is just a great beer. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten excited about an IPA and I’m very glad Sixpoint came along with Resign just in time for summer!
Yesterday evening, with my TPS reports completed (correct covers and all), I left the office at a reasonable hour with embryonic cooking ideas in my head. As I got to the store, I still had no solid idea of the menu. But I had time to wander the aisles and ponder fish vs poultry, grilling vs the oven, salad vs pasta… In the end I decide to make-up a new chicken recipe.
Union Market has a hot pepper jelly that has been taunting me for months. As my mind settled on roasting a chicken, I knew I had to make use of this jelly. But what else… then the universal truth came to me: bacon makes everything better (and perhaps thinking back to Meg’s butterfly chicken). And Union Market just happens to have some pretty fine looking bacon. Some carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes fell into my basket for side dishes. Finally, I grabbed a thing of cilantro to top everything off.
Now this dish takes a bit of time, but almost all of that is passively letting everything cook. You need about 20 minutes of prep. I put the chicken in a dutch over, peeled and chopped the veggies and put them in along with the potatoes. Next I took my pound of bacon, gave it a fine chop, and mixed it in a bowl with maybe a half cup of the hot pepper jam. About a third of the bacon pepper jam went into the bird’s cavity, about third under the skin, and about a third on the top-side skin. For good measure, any extra little bacon pieces on the cutting board were put on the potatoes.
With the lid on, and the oven at 375, I just let everything cook for maybe a bit more than 90 minutes–after about 30 the smells of onions, chicken, and bacon were wafting through the apartment. I took the lid of for the last 15 or so minutes, as I made some quinoa, just to help the onions brown a bit; because of the sugars in the jelly, the chicken was already there.
And how did this improvised concoction turn out? Well, between Nick, Fayaz, and I, we took down almost the whole bird and all the veggies. There was a little sweet and heat from pepper jelly and bacon added all the savory you could hope for. I realized, after it was in the oven, that I had forgotten to add garlic. But, I think this error might have been for the best. [You can pick your jaw up off the floor.] There was plenty of flavor that worked well together. I feel that the garlic might have just gotten in the way. If I were going to add something else, it would be more heat, probably by adding diced hot pepper to the bacon jelly mix.
More than just the food, it was nice to sit down at a table mid-week with my roommates and chat–much better than the usual take-out in front of the TV with the work laptop going.
So after a prolonged hiatus, I’m finally getting up a post! It’s been a little crazy, so this lazy curry recipe that I’ve made a couple of times in the interim seems highly appropriate. It’s a great low cost alternative to take-out that takes less time than the delivery boy.
Here is what you’ll need:
- 6 scallions
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb boneless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup coconut cream
- 3 tbsp Thai green curry paste
- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
- Noodles, rice, or (my personal preference quinoa)
As your rice or noodles finish cooking: Just cut the scallions in to approximately half inch slices and cube the chicken. Heat the oil in a pan throw in the scallions and chicken for about 3 to 4 minutes until the chicken is browned. If you like heat, add a couple Thai chilies in with the scallions and chicken. Stir in the coconut cream and curry paste and cook for another five minutes or so. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro.
Now I like quinoa, but rice or noodle are a great pairing as well. But whatever you use, in 15 minutes you’ll have a meal as good as your usual Thai take-out, only hotter and fresher.