19 Feb

Kale Detox Salad

This is Jen’s new go-to snack and meal course. There are tons of variations on this, but this one is ours. If eating the garnish doesn’t seem appealing, it didn’t to me either, but this salad really is quite good. It also holds up in the fridge very well.

Video of me prep chefing the veggies.

Dressing:

  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon (~50-60 mL)
  • 1tsp honey (we go heavy on the honey)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Dressing Directions

Shake, whisk, or blend.

Salad

  • 1 bunch Kale (or half bag) finely chopped and dried
  • 3 medium carrots diced
  • 2 large celery stalks diced
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 pine nuts (toasted is awesome)

Directions

  1. Place kale in a large bowl and massage dressing into kale.
  2. Add rest of the ingredients and toss.
  3. Top with a few more pine nuts for a more appealing presentation.

Notes:
The lemon and honey go together amazingly well. I’m surprised that that particular combination is not more widely used…oh. Never mind.
You can substitute pistachios or almonds for pine nuts, as pine nuts seem to be worth their weight in gold. Costco has the cheapest ones we can find.
You really want to chop that kale finely, or else your jaw will get a superset workout.
You can add other stuff if you like, such as bell peppers or cheese, but we like it simple.

19 Feb

Lo-Carb, Gluten Free, Protein, Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

We got this recipe from Jen’s mom who found it in a cookbook in her library, but has never been able to find it again. They are surprisingly good considering they have evil sucralose in them.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, unsalted, softened
  • 1 cup sucralose (only use 3/4 cup if using sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat (“natural cane sugar” dehydrated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded dried coconut
  • 1 cup vanilla whey protein powder (use 1 tsp vanilla extract if using unflavored)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 330° F
  2. In electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy, then add sucralose and sugar and cream until smooth.
  3. Add eggs beating each one at a time
  4. Add vanilla (if using)
  5. In a second bowl, mix the coconut, protein powder, and baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to butter/sugar mixture in 3-4 doses making sure each addition is completely integrated before adding the next dose.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray or use a parchment paper (silicone) liner. Drop or scoop cookie dough (approx 2 tablespoon)
  8. Cook for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Makes 32 cookies; with 167 calories each, 11g fat, 6g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 1g fiber.

Notes

  • Sucralose is the bulk granulated stuff, not little packets of Splenda. It comes in different concentrations. You should use the 1:1 (same sweetness as regular sugar)
  • Refrigerate the dough on the cookie sheet before cooking if it spreads too much. (It seems as though it spreads more when we use sweetened coconut.)
  • If they seem to moist or gooey, we dry them in a dehydrator, and they will get really crispy.
  • Coconut seems to pull water out of the air, so if they get too moist after a few days, put them back in the dehydrator to crisp them up.
18 Feb

Guacamole – How to make awesome guac

Many people are intimidated by guacamole. Here’s the Heymanator, sure-fire method of getting awesome guacamole every time.

  1. Start with good avocados, typically Haas, and they should be ripe (i.e., soft). We have had great luck with Costco avocados.
  2. Half the avocados, seed them, and scoop them into a bowl with a flat surface.
  3. Mash them up until they are relatively smooth. I like to use a potato masher (hence the flat bottom).
  4. Here’s the secret. Add lime juice, more than you think you’ll need; salt, more than you think you need, and freshly ground pepper. Mix well and taste. Your avocados should be seasoned to taste before you add any other ingredients.
  5. Add in minced onion and small diced tomatoes. (You can rinse the onions under water to deflame them and get rid of that hot raw onion taste.) For two avocados, I usually add half a medium onion and one medium tomato. You want the ripest, most flavorful tomato possible.
  6. Taste again and add more lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
  7. Eat.

Optional ingredients

  • Cilantro: some people love it
  • Mayonnaise: helps make it smoother, but it’s not necessary if you followed step 1 and 3.
  • Other spices: garlic, cumin, coriander, diced jalapeño, diced serranos, cayenne pepper, whatever

Oh, and please use fresh lime juice from real (small, thin-skinned) limes whenever possible.

11 Sep

Jen’s Green Thai-ish Curry

This little concoction is the product of Jen’s experimentation with Thai curry paste. It’s quite flavorful and with a light, fresh taste, and unusual vegetable composition.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 can coconut milk (approx 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry paste (available from most Asian food stores; we have used yellow and panang paste with good results
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 tbsp peanut butter (or 4 1/2 tbsp peanut butter powder plus 1 1/2 tbsp water)
  • 1 tbsp salt (more to taste if you like)
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh ginger (sliced or minced) or 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 3/4 bunch of cilantro (stalks included)
  • 1/4 tsp red or cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Stir fry:

  • 1 pound ground pork (we’ve tried chicken, turkey, and ground beef, but pork is the best tasting)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 sweet potato diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets cut small
  • 1 bell pepper diced (we prefer red)
  • 1 squash or zucchni diced

Should be about five cups of vegetables total when diced.

Heat saute pan over medium heat. Place small amount of coconut oil in pan and brown pork with a pinch or two of salt. Dump meat in a bowl, and add a little more oil. Place harder vegetables in the pan (carrots and sweet potato) and add pinch of salt. Saute until they just begin to soften. Dump in bowl with meat. Repeat the process with broccoli and squash. Then repeat again with celery, onion, and peppers.

Place pork and all vegetables back in the pan and pour curry sauce over the meat/vegetable mixture. Stir occasionally until warmed through. Serve over jasmine rice.

30 May

Passion Fruit Frozen Yogurt

This is an adaptation of Alton Brown’s Lemon-Ginger Frozen Yogurt Recipe. You can use store bought yogurt, but that’s expensive, so I make my own.

Step 1: Make Yogurt

  1. Pour 2 quarts of milk into a 3 quart container and add one packet of dry powdered milk (enough to make one quart).
  2. Turn oven on for two minutes
  3. Microwave milk until it is 120 degrees (about 6-8 minutes)
  4. Cool milk until it is 110 degrees
  5. Add 1 cup live culture yogurt and stir
  6. Place container in oven
  7. You’ll need to monitor the temperature of the mixture. You want to try and keep it between 100 and 115 degrees. (Turning the oven on for two minutes every two hours does the trick for me. Helps if you have a probe thermometer.)
  8. Remove when done 4 -8 hours. The longer you leave it the gellier it will be but the tarter it will be.

Step 2: Make Yogurt Cheese

  1. Pour Yogurt into a colander lined with cheese cloth. Place a weight plate and small weight on top (can of soup works).
  2. Place colander over large bowl and refrigerate over night.
  3. In the morning, the bowl will have whey which you can use for protein shakes
  4. The colander will contain the yogurt cheese (add some chives and garlic powder, and you have an awesome dip.
  5. But we’re going to use ours to make frozen yogurt.

Step 3: Make Frozen Yogurt

  1. Empty yogurt cheese into a large bowl and add
  2. 4 Cups Yogurt Cheese
  3. 3/4 Cup Sugar
  4. 1/2 Cup agave nectar (or Light Corn Syrup)
  5. 1/2 cup passion fruit juice (about 10 fruits worth)
  6. Whisk to combine and add to your ice cream maker.
  7. Eat yogurt
30 May

Mean Mean Pat Chili

Everyone loves chili. Here’s my original take on the stuff. I now make my own chili powder according to Alton Brown’s Homemade Chili Powder recipe. This chili is mean mean not because it’s hot, but because it’s so good you can never go back. The recipe is very flexible and can give you anything from a non spicy stew all the way to inferno hot.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 1.5 lb ground beef (to make veggie chili, just leave this ingredient out)
  • 0 – 4 cans beans to taste (I like to use 2 cans of kidney and 2 cans of black beans)
  • 4 – 8 garlic cloves thinly sliced or minced
  • 2 medium to large onions
  • 10 Roma tomatoes (seeded and diced)
  • 6-8 Tomatillos
  • 6 – 10 Bell peppers (use any combination of colors you feel like)
  • 3 – 5 jalapeño peppers
  • optional peppers*
  • Spices: chili powder, cloves, cummin, black pepper, cinammon

Directions:

  1. Dice all veggies. Seed the bell peppers. (Seed hot peppers and remove membrane if you don’t want it too spicy.)
  2. In a large pot or dutch oven, sweat the garlic in small amount of oil
  3. Add meat and brown meat with salt, black pepper and 1 tbsp chili powder; drain (or not)
  4. Add all veggies and beans to pot and mix thoroughly.
  5. Begin to heat the mixture on a medium-low setting. (You don’t need to add any liquid, as the veggies will release their water providing the liquid, but don’t turn up the heat too quickly or it will scorch.)
  6. Add spices to taste. Here’s my suggestions:
    • 2 – 3 tablespoons of Chili powder
    • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/2 tablespoon cummin
    • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • dash of cinammon
  7. When chili begins to bubble, turn down the heat; cover, simmer for 1 – 2 hours. Taste. I like it like this, but Jen thinks it’s too concentrated and prefers add some water to thin it back out.

Congratulations. You have just made Mean Mean Pat Chili. Serve with cheese and your choice of bread, corn bread, crackers.

Notes: You can also use additional peppers. One of my favorites is to add in an habanero pepper.

Notes: Nowadays, I make my own Chili Powder according to Alton Brown’s recipe, although I leave out the garlic powder since my chili has fresh garlic.

13 Feb

Puerco Pibil–Once Upon A Time in Mexico Style

Here is yet another reason not to see movies at the theater. In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Robert Rodriquez’ sequel to Desperado, Johnny Depp’s character is just crazy about Puerco Pibil. On the DVD extra “Ten Minue Cooking School,” Robert Rodriguez shows how to make Puerco Pibil. (Of course, now with the magic of youtube, anyone can watch the extra.) Having made the dish several times, I’d like to present this dish along with some tips and modifications.

Hardware:

  • Coffee grinder
  • Large Baking dish or Roasting Pan
  • Zip-lock bag
  • Blender
  • Banana leaves (optional)

Software:

  • 5 tbs Annato Seed (note)
  • 2 tsp Cummin Seed
  • 1 tbs Peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 8 whole Allspice
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1-3 habanero chiles (note)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 5 lemons
  • Splash of the finest tequila you can find (note)
  • 5 lbs of Pork Butt

Preparation:

  1. Using the coffee ginder, grind Annato, Cumin Seed, Cloves, Allspice, and Peppercorns into a fine powder.
  2. Remove seeds and inner membrane from habanero.
  3. Add vinegar, orange juice, habanero, salt, garlic, and spice powder to blender. Blend on high for 30-60 seconds.
  4. Add juice of five lemons and Tequila and blend for another 30-60 seconds. Congratulations, you’ve just made achiote paste.
  5. Cut pork into 2 inch cubes and place in a large ziplock bag; pour achiote paste over pork. Seal bag and mush bag around to spread the paste over the pork. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Cooking:

  1. Line the baking pan with banana leaves (or foil if you don’t have leaves).
  2. Pour pork and achiote paste into pan.
  3. Cover with more banana leaves and then foil. Crimp foil around pan to make sure steam doesn’t escape.
  4. Bake in the oven at 325° F for 4 hours.

And bam, a dish so good you might just get whacked for making it.

Serving Suggestions:

This dish is very strong in flavor, and some people might want to dilute it a bit. Ideal candidates are white rice and pico de gallo. Shred the pork and mix into or serve on top of white rice and pico.

Notes:

  • Annato seed (also called achiote) is often available in grocery stores in small plastic packets (Badia brand in Florida). A one ounce packet holds about 2.5 tbs, so two packets should do the trick.
  • Lately, I’ve stopped putting the spice powder in with the liquid blend. When you pour it out of the blender, a lot of the spices are left behind. So I just pour the spice blend direcly on top of the pork in the ziploc bag and then pour the liquid over it.
  • Habanero is the hottest chile in the world, so you might want to "wimp it down a bit." Here are some tips: 1) use less habanero or even a half or quarter of one; instead of blending the habanero, just slice into strips and place them whole in the ziplock bag; make sure you don’t get the seeds or membrane into the dish. Don’t pick your nose or touch your eyes or contacts for two days after handling the inside of Habanero (or just wear gloves while cutting it).
  • It doesn’t really matter what kind of Tequila you use as long as it’s real Tequila. This means it should say 100% agave, and no Cuervo Gold or any other "gold" Tequila. For me a "splash" means a 1/4 cup.
  • For you Alton Brown fans, the achiote paste is technically a marinade, so it will not really tenderize or penetrate the meat. You don’t need to let it soak for long periods of time, although I usually make it the night before I cook it for convenience. Also because of the acid, you probably won’t want to line the pan with aluminum foil.
  • The slow moist cooking over low heat, however, will tenderize the pork. The pork will be very tender and is easily "pulled."
  • I have also made this recipe with rib end roast instead of pork butt with excellent results. Cut the meat off the bone, but leave at least some of the bone in the mixture for added flavor. I’m going to try this with whole chicken some time. Just butcher it according to Alton’s instructions.
15 Jul

Making Biltong

Biltong is a South African dried meat, similar to jerky, but it’s dried at room temperature. It is phenomenally tasty. Here is my guide on making biltong (videos to follow).

  1. Obtain London broil. Cut broil into strips no more than an inch think ½ to ¾ is about just right.
  2. Spray or rub meat with a brown vinegar (apple cider is most often recommended)
  3. Sprinkle coarse salt on all sides of meat (optional sprinkle some coriander and black pepper at the same time)
  4. Refrigerate overnight; pour off any water that comes out of the meat
  5. Scrape most of the salt off; add a little more vinegar
  6. Season with 4 parts coriander to 1 part black pepper (I also put about ½ part salt; you can add other spices to taste)
  7. Hang meat in a cool, dry place for 4 – 7 days to taste (thicker takes longer; drier takes longer)
  8. When ready to test, remove meat and cut off a few slices
  9. Store…hahahaha…okay, just eat.

Tips/insights

  1. Traditionally it is done in the dry season under trees. The purpose of the coriander was to keep flies off the meat.
  2. Biltong has been eaten as long as fifteen years later with no deleterious effects.
  3. An air conditioned home is the perfect temp/dryness for making biltong. Alternatively, your garage in January would probably fit the bill.
  4. To hang the meat, I strung a line with knots tied in it (to keep the meat from sliding and touching each other) across a walk in closet. I used large paper clips as hooks for the meat (boil them if you feel like it, since they will be touching parts of the meat that did not receive the vinegar/salt treatment. If you have a closet with wire shelving, the wire shelving is a perfect place to dry it.
  5. Alternatively, you can make a biltong box to dry it in: box with a low watt bulb and a fan with dowels in it to hang the meat from. You can make one or buy one. But this raises the temperature slightly because of the bulb.
  6. Or you can do it in a spare bathroom (the shower bar makes a great rack) but don’t do it if you take showers in the bathrooms as it increases the humidity too much.
  7. Turning on a fan will help to dry the biltong faster.
  8. Some people like their biltong drier and some like it wetter. Generally beef is made a little wetter, while game (like elk, antelope) is made drier. You can gauge the dryness by the redness: pinker/redder = wetter; blacker = drier. The stuff you had today was slightly wet.
  9. A friend from South Africa says my biltong is pretty spot-on, and some friends who have lived in South Africa say they like my biltong better than what they got in South Africa.
  10. Your wife will think you are crazy for doing this and worry about bugs in the house. Don’t worry; they are not going near your meat.
  11. Fun fact: MS Word’s spell check contains the word biltong.

Here are some other videos on making biltong:

This series is the most informative. Unfortunately, it’s not done yet:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DltkGVzqrWI
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhdJmFZomks
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uOHCbHQwFM
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HANx8a0p8E
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJvynEvhQVM
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj578FsdvTs

In the closet:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-BOsNA6NDU

In the bathroom:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwvVZJpmNCw

With a biltong box:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb-YwyLTQTo
14 Mar

Black sapote

One of my hobbies/interests of late has been producing my own food. I’m starting small with fruit trees. One of my first scouting trips took me to Excalibur Fruit Trees where among other things I was exposed to the Black Sapote. The owner told us that when ripe, the fruit actually tastes like chocolate pudding. She gave us an unripe fruit to take home and try. This video records the reaction of my parents trying it for the first time.

Okay, now that you’ve seen the video, the fruit doesn’t have that much flavor. It is very mild but does taste mildly of watered down cocoa without much sugar. The owner told us she likes to add sugar and mix it with cool whip. Alternatively, she likes to put it in baked goods, especially banana bread.

11 Feb

Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Part serendipitous accident, part designer cookie. I was cooking at a friends house and asked for vanilla extract. By accident, she gave me peppermint extract, and the rest is history.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 dash of salt (approx 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate depending on your mood)

Directions:

  1. Mix butter or margarine with the sugar until thoroughlt blended and smooth. For best results, do it by hand, not with a handmixer (we’re old fashioned here). If the margarine is too hard, you can soften in the microwave, but be careful that you do not melt it, becuase if you do, then your dough will be oily on the surface, but not stick together right, and your cookies will not have the right consistency.
  2. Mix in the eggs until smooth.
  3. Add in the vanilla and peppermint extract. I just free pour these until I feel good about it. Mix
  4. Add salt and baking soda and mix. (The salt is really optional, but I think it makes them better.)
  5. Add cocoa powder, more or less depending on your mood. Mix (slowly at first to avoid wearing the cocoa powder).
  6. Add flour one cup at a time and mix between cups, again starting slowly.
  7. When dough is consistent and all traces of flour gone, then add in the chips.

Baking:

  1. Using a spoon, drop a certain amoung of dough (depending on desire cookie size) onto a nongrease baking sheet.
  2. Bake at 325-375 for about 8-10 minutes. Start with 350 and experiment because your oven will be different than mine.
  3. Be very careful with the first batch, becuase the cookies are already brown, it’s easy to burn them without realizing it.
  4. Undercooked is preferable to overcooked

Congratulations. You have just made Pat’s very own Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies are not to-die-for; they are to-kill-for.

*Note: Butter will give you a slightly richer tasting, but crunchier cookie. Margarine will give you a softer cookie. I much prefer the margarine cookies over butter.