Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Masala Dabba

One of the best gifts I got for Christmas was a masala dabba or and Indian spice box to house the 7 most common spices in the Indian kitchen. Since we love to cook Indian foods this was a great gift. Yesterday, Nick and I hit the new Indian Grocer here and stocked the dabba with fresh spices. The store is amazing and smells incredible as well as offers fresh samosas on the side. We spent a good half hour browsing the aisles before trying to find the smallest bags of spices we could. Even then, I sent half of what we purchased home with Nick.

So what's in the box? Turmeric, chili powder, Garam Masala, Cardamom seeds, Cumin seed and ground coriander with black mustard seeds in the middle. Its a colorful and fragrant tour across India and will make many a spicy meal. Can't wait to get down to it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Nachos...where did I go wrong?

I assembled some nachos after work yesterday for dinner. Stopping at the store to find some nice avocados, a little fresh chicken and some other key ingredients I began by frying the Low Carb tortillas into chips.  They were salted and tasted oddly sweet after the treatment. I set them aside and prepare the rest of the goodies.

For the chicken:

Dry Rub
1 t Cayenne
1 t Paprika
1 t celery salt

I cut the chicken into strips and rubbed with the dry mix and roasted for 15 minutes at 350. It had some nice but not over powering heat.

The avocados were perfect, a rare find at the store so I cubed the flesh and mixed with lime juice, red onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Guacamole made.

I chopped the chicken into bite size pieces and melted a tablespoon of butter with a 1/4 c hot sauce and a tablespoon of honey.

I assembled all with the nachos, a bit of sharp cheddar, a smattering of chopped onion red and green, a crumble of blue cheese and a scant bit of Blue cheese dressing.

Should have been great right? But it wasn't. Too sweet from the chips? Can't put my finger on it. They were edible but not the most enjoyable experience. Certainly not what I had in mind.

Back to the drawing board.....

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Odd, Melancholy Christmas this year....

We had a mixed review on the holidays this year. Some laughter, some tears and an unsettled feeling we could not quite put a finger on. Everyone was somewhere but not at the same time or in the same place. With all of us being nurses, we work odd shifts and find it difficult to be together at times. This was just one of those years. We could not make services as we both worked and by the time it was time for the late service, we were exhausted.

The Fangman's are leaving town in the next few months so our visit to their family Christmas was a last on many fronts. We won't see their kids much now or the rest of their brothers and sisters we have grown fond of. The end of an era. Literally like brother and sister to us.

Ben came up from KC last weekend and we made cinnamon rolls and cooked a bit together but he had to leave Tuesday and then got called off work. He made more rolls for the crew and did a great job but when you work with all gals, cinnamon rolls are not always a figure friendly choice.  His first Christmas away from home was a bit traumatic for Mom and me and probably him.

Nick and Jill stopped by Sunday and had a gift exchange with Ben and then stopped again on Christmas Eve but Jill had to leave for work and then slept half of Christmas Day before heading to her folks with Nick. We will get to see them all weekend as we head to Brenda's folks in Loomis, NE.

Mackenzie has been working like a fiend and is exhausted. She made it over Christmas Day but slept after dinner till the Fangmans left. Lori and Matt came over with a delicious cake and I picked my Mom up for dinner. The usual fare, Prime Rib Roast, Gene's potatoes and a salad. All the recipes are elsewhere on the blog.

All in all it was just a day to think about our last times together. Mackenzie will move this summer and we have no idea where the boys will take themselves.  We will probably have to travel for the holidays next year no doubt, which is fine by us but sad to think the time has come to say goodbye to all that is familiar and start making new memories.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beef Sous Vide style

I took a frozen flat iron out this a.m. and placed in a vacuum bag with some seasoning and sealed it. The oven was set to 134 degrees and I dropped in the frozen steak and left for church. We pretty much ignored it all day and about 5 I removed it and heated a cast iron for the final sear. Perfectly medium, tender, juicy with a bit of Bearnaise and some sprouts it made a lovely supper.
We are gonna love this thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sous Vide Chicken

I may never cook chicken again without this oven. Tender, juicy and unbelievable. I may even use it to cook chicken for other recipes. Crazy. Not much to look at out of the bag but a few minutes in a pan with a little butter and olive oil and it browned up nicely and left me a nice fond to turn into a light cream sauce using the juices from the sous vide bag and a little garlic.

I am a convert. I can't wait to make Indian food with it. Imagine cooking the chicken in the tandori spices for a few hours. Wow. Come to dinner, I need an excuse to make a meal.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Speaking of my birthday..

SousVide Supreme Demi Promo PackA Sous Vide Oven. The kids and my lovely wife bought me this for my grand celebration. I think this Sous Vide Oven will change some things about cooking in the house. I am reading up on uses and techniques to insure that this will be used and not just a novelty taking up space. Interesting concept here since few know what Sous Vide actually is. I am not exactly sure why I do.

Basically you vacuum pack raw foods and set the water temperature to the done-ness desired. Drop the food in and let it 'cook' up to 8 hours. Kind of a water bath crock pot. Once it has reached temperature, you must brown the food in a skillet to give it a bit of color. You may cook steaks and roasts also but the time in an over night type affair. The thicker the food, the longer it will take. So there will be a few future posts regarding Sous Vide dishes. Wait for it....more to come.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cacciatore revisted....a better outcome for sure

I made Chicken Cacciatore for my birthday yesterday.  This time I tried to avoid the soggy chicken skin and inedible parts of the dish and focus on a better understanding of what flavors the sauce and keeping the chicken super crisp.

I again used Tyler Florence's recipe (elsewhere in the blog) as a starting point sans lemons. Basically made a marinara heavy on the roasted red peppers (2 jars, divided) and no,  I did not roast them myself as the jars were way cheaper.  Before adding the capers and mushrooms (my addition) I buzzed the sauce with the hand blender to smooth things out a bit.

Now the chicken: I used bone in, skin on thighs and breasts for the ladies. The thighs, I de-boned and saved all the scraps. It made neat little skin enveloped thigh packages of dark meat that fried up after a dredge in flour (no egg, what mess that is.) Super golden brown before flipping over, I then did the same with the bones and discard pieces of chicken, fried them brown then added them to the sauce for a long slow cook. 

I placed the completed browned thighs and breasts in the oven on a rack at 325 till they were cooked through and then held them at 180 till dinner. I removed the discard stuff from the sauce and added in my reserved jar of peppers and mushrooms and capers. I heated everything, made the polenta and then served it by spooning the polenta on the plate, a piece or 2 of chicken and covered the chicken with sauce. The result was crispy chicken and a great sauce.  this is the way to make a Cacciatore. Great eats.


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