Green Chile Packaged
You can turn out ten great frozen lunches by stewing up a stew every two weeks. Make a big pot of food on the weekend and freeze individual portions to eat during the week. The fresh, enticing flavors of your pure, homemade food will shock your colleagues as they contrast them with the slightly chemical, off smell scents of so called diet or supermarket frozen food.
White Bean Ragout
My beans and greens (Blog #3 – White Bean Stew) are a great candidate for freezing.
Another great choice, New Mexican Posole. Dozens of great and equally authentic
looking Posole recipes are on the Internet. My version uses chicos, New Mexican green chiles (smoked and peeled), pork loin and chicken stock.
I get frozen Green Sandia Chiles (available from New Mexican Connection firstname.lastname@example.org). I got my Chicos there as well.
You can also make posole with hominy, which is much cheaper and easier to find. Hominy are corn kernels that have been “nixtamalized”, either traditionally by soaking in lye-water or commercially today in a calcium product. Nixtamalization strips away the corn’s outer skin, and it’s bran and germ. I buy prepared Hominy from Rancho Gordo.
Packages of dried Chicos and Hominy
Chicos are a whole grain product made by smoking whole ears of corn in their husks and then drying them. The kernels are then pried out by hand, a tedious process. Chicos have a delightful smoky flavor unlike that of any other corn product.
Ingredient for Posole
Preparation of Posole
- Chile preparation:
- The chiles look like a mess. Start with peeling off the roasted skins and lining them up on a plate.
Green Chile Peeled and Seeded
- Once the skins are all off, take the plate to a sink and strip off the seeds with your fingers. Avoid the temptation is using running water, because you’ll be losing flavor.
- Coarsely chop up the chiles
- Saute the onions and garlic in a large, heavy saucepan.
- When the onion are getting transparent, add the pork and cook briefly.
- Add the soaked chicos and reserve the soaking water.
- Add the chopped green chiles and cilantro.
- Cover with chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
- Season with salk and pepper.
- Simmer gently until the meat is very done. (this is a dish that is hard to overcook and that holds its essential character after being frozen).
I divided the stew into nine individual containers. I could easily have used ten. I like the glass pyrex dishes. They avoid freezing and heating food in plastic.
A half-pound per person, they say.
I order a natural turkey as fresh as possible, preferably killed only a couple of days before delivery and raised naturally on a free range local farm. These turkeys cook in about ten minute a pound, instead of the 20 minutes a pound for a frozen turkey with a pop stick thermometer in it.
I bake the turkey for thirty to forty minutes at 450 degrees, then cut back too 350 for the remaining time. As soon as the skin browns nicely, I cover it loosely with a piece of alumni foil to prevent over-browning. The turkey is done at an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Check the temperature between the thigh and breast at its most interior point.
Turkey, of course, is simply a convenient vehicle for stuffing. At least for the meat eating crowd. Trust me, you never have too much stuffing. This recipe is enough to stuff a 16 pound bird with a generous pan of leftovers.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of home style, loose sausage
1 medium sized head of celery, with thew leaves, chopped.
2 large onions diced.
1/2 pound white mushrooms, minced. They make the stuffing light.
1 loaf of multigrain, sliced bread, partially stale.
Liver if any and/or oysters (optional)
Chicken stock to moisten the stuffing
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage if you can find it. Use dried otherwise.
Salt and pepper to taste
- Saute´the sausage until all the water has been cooked out, breaking it into small pieces in the process. Then remove the sausage, leaving the fat.
- Saute´the onions and celery in the sausage fat until tender and almost translucent.
- Add the mushrooms, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Use more seasoning than you normally would. Cook until tender. Remove from the heat.
- While the vegetables are cooking, pull the bread into small pieces, ½ to 1 inch in size.
- Add the sausage to the torn bread and mix thoroughly. Then add the vegetable mixture and stir thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.
- The key part is the moisture. Too much stock, and the stuffing is heavy and soggy. Too little stock, and the stuffing is dry and mealy. The exact amount of stock depends on the bread and how dry it is. The stuffing should be moist but not soaked.
- Stuff both the neck and body cavity and close the flaps with small skewers and bake the stuffing with the turkey. The leftover in the dish should be baked for about an hour at 350, toward the end of the turkey baking time.
I use an Italian trick for the gravy and roasted several heads of garlic in the pan with the turkey and then squeeze the pulp into the gravy. Keep a little water in the bottom of the roasting pan at all times will to avoid burning the juices.
Roasting is an easy way to cook healthy, delicious meals with a minimum of effort. I’m not thinking of Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas roast beef, but the ordinary vegetables, meat and potatoes we eat every day. In fact, roasting creates such rich tasting vegetable and potatoes that meat and fish can be kept to a minimum or avoided entirely.
Roast a complete meal, timing the vegetables, potatoes and fish or meat all to be done at the same time. Prep is easy. Roasting requires little work after the vegetables are cut up. Best of all, it’s almost fool proof!
1/2 size sheet pans
Here are few keys to good roasting.
They begin with good roasting pans, which must be large enough. Roasted vegetables and potatoes taste so good because the crisp parts have begun to caramelize, bringing out richer flavors. The pieces need to be far enough apart to caramelize quickly.
You want what restaurants call “sheet pans.” Full sheet pans (18” X 26”) are too large for most home ovens, but ½ size sheet pans (18” X 13”) fit perfectly and ¼ size sheet pans (9” X 13”) are useful for smaller quantities. They come in stainless steel, aluminum and anodized aluminum, which is the least likely to bleed dangerous elements into your food. They can be purchased on line for anywhere from $10 to $15 for the ½ pan sheet size.
Vegetables appropriate for roasting. Root crops come to life with roasting, which brings out their flavors and sweetness and they are available in winter when (outside of California) most other vegetables must be transported from far away. Broccoli heads and cauliflower are wonderful as well. You may even get your kids to eat them!
Tips for Roasting
- Preheat the oven to between 375° and 425°. Experiment and find out what’s best for you. 375° you don’t have to watch as carefully, but it takes longer. At 425° they brown faster but may not be quite as soft and tender and the can quickly burn.
- Use vegetables that cook in the same time on the same sheet pan, then stagger the times you put the sheet pans into the oven.
- Cut the vegetables into roughly the same size pieces, about an inch to an inch and half for broccoli.
- Chop roughly and add several cloves of garlic (I use five or six large cloves for each sheet pan).
- Put the cutup vegetables in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add any other spices such as red pepper flakes and curry or chili powder.
- Put the vegetable pieces on a sheet pan with plenty of room between each piece.
- Check them in about 20 minutes. When they begin to brown, turn them over to brown them evenly on all sides.
- They are done when they are light brown and tender.
Carbohydrates have a bad name but I like wheat breads. The problem is, being the only one in my family who now eats bread, I have a dilemma. A whole loaf goes dry in a few of days and I end up with jars of breadcrumbs. I could make smaller loaves and freeze them, but there are times when there’s nothing in cupboard and biscuits are too rich.
Grown and stone-milled by Next Step Produce, Newburg, Maryland
Flat breads are the answer. I use high quality whole-wheat flour from a local grower and olive oil, water, salt and onions for flavor. That’s it. They taste delicious and are easy to make. Mark Bittman, my favorite food writer, suggested them in an article in The New York Times a few weeks ago. I’ve simplified his recipe and made a few changes. It varies from Mark’ Bittman’s recipe mainly because I bake the flat bread much thinner, until it is almost crisp.
Check out Mark Bittman’s original recipe at http://markbittman.com/recipe/easy-whole-grain-flatbread/
Incidentally, Next Step Produce has some of the best market crops at the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market in Washington, DC. Check out http://nextstepproduce.com.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (probably could use less)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh herb leaves (optional)
Preparation of Whole Wheat Flat Bread
- Put the flour into a bowl; add salt; then slowly add 1 1/2 cups water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Cover with a towel, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of thin pancake batter.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 450°F.
- Put the oil in a ¼ baking sheet (that’s 14 X 9) along with the onion and rosemary if you’re using them and put into the heated oven.
- Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to get hot, but not smoking. Remove the pan, give the onions a stir, then pour in the batter and return to the oven.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the flatbread is well browned and crisp around the edges.
Cut into squares and serve.
Americans have been eating biscuits since our early pioneer days, probably because biscuits are useful when yeast isn’t available or when you need a quick bread. Made with flour, shortening and milk or water, they are fairly rich and should be eaten hot, but they are also adaptable to a huge variety of healthy additions.
This recipe comes from the 24th printing of the 1931 edition of Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking. A newer edition of this classic is now available, but I prefer this battered copy. It was my mother’s and still has her notes in margins. I think of her and I smell the warm flavors of my youth every time I open it. Where else can you find a recipe for Salami of Wildfowl or roasted snipes and woodcock, let alone preparing roe for caviar, preserving eggs or instructions on
Joy of Cooking Plan for herb garden
cultivating herbs (complete with a suggested garden planting) all in the same book.
Ingredients for Rolled Biscuits
- 1 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
- 4 to 6 tablespoons chilled butter or shortening, or a combination of both
- 3/4 cup of milk
Preparation of Rolled Biscuits
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
- Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Don’t get neurotic about this; some bigger lumps won’t matter.
- Make a well in the center of these ingredients and pour in the milk all at once.
- Immediately stir the ingredients together, talking no more than 30 seconds.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead together quickly (again, no more then 30 seconds).
- Use you hands to shape in a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.
- Cut with a round biscuit cutter or simply into 1 1/2 inch rectangles.
- Brush the tops with milk or melted butter.
- Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes
Tips for Biscuits
As a rule of thumb, breads made with baking powder should be handled as briefly and gently as possible while in most cases breads made with yeast can be kneaded and handled as much as possible.
Additions to Biscuits
- Dust the tops with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
- Just before they brown, sprinkle the tops with grated parmesan and paprika.
- Or incorporate any of the following into the dough:
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, chives or sage.
- 1/3rd cup crumbled roquerfort or cheddar cheese.
- 2 or 3 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon.
- 3 tablespoons chopped ham
- 4 tablespoons sauteed onions.
My daughter Georgia prepared these biscuits as the basis for a lunch. She broke the biscuits in half, inserted a fried egg, cheese and and handful of lettuce, and served them with small bowl of asparagus soup.
Next blog I’ll have a few of the many variations of biscuits.
Radishes are available in farmers markets in an increasingly interesting variety of sizes, shapes and colors. They are great winter and early spring vegetable when choices of locally grown foods are limited, and they look spectacular when served.
This simple recipe calls for thinly sliced radishes, creme fraiche, a little salt and pepper. From David Tanis, One Good Dish.
Radishes sliced with Creme Fraiche
And there are lots of radish varieties available in farmers markets today.
To get the uniformly thin slices which make this simple dish so elegant, you’ll need a mandolin.
The most cost effective way to eat chicken. Buy a whole bird, cut it up, take the meat off the bones and use the bones for soup. I toss the wings in with the stock and, if I can get them, I add a few chicken feet. You can find my recipe in Blog #1.
It’s easy to find appealing recipes for the breasts.
The meat cut off the thighs and legs is more problematic. One good way of using the leg and thigh meat is to grind it up and make it into garlic/ginger balls for chicken soup. See my recipe at Blog #1.
Chicken croquettes, made from raw chicken meat, will be more popular with your kids and friends than any fast food nuggets. They are a bit more work than my chicken balls, but you can prepare them up to the cooking stage on a week-end and freeze them, for a quick, easy meal during the week.
I adopted this recipe by Maria Teresa Jorge. Check out her terrific blog at http://food52.com/users/2390-maria-teresa-jorge.
Ingredients for Chicken Croquettes
Chicken Croquette Ingredients
pound chicken meat, raw, boneless and without skin
tablespoons chopped parsley
teaspoon grated fresh ginger
small shallots chopped finely
tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
teaspoons granulated Mustard
cup bread without the crust
cup whole milk
cup bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
- Chop the shallots and garlic finely.
- Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil until translucent
- Cut the inside of the bread (without the crust) in small pieces and measure 1 cup. Mix with the milk until it is totally absorbed.
- Cut the chicken meat in small pieces. In a food processor pulse the chicken meat until is ground. Add the mustard, bread with milk, chopped parsley, shallots and garlic, and grated fresh ginger. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Pulse until combined. At this point you cab put them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Beat 1 whole egg in a bowl. Put the breadcrumbs in a plate. Make the croquettes taking some chicken mince and giving them a shape of a cylinder 1 1/2 inches ling by 3/4 inches thick.
- Roll the croquettes in the egg and then in the bread crumbs. At this point you also can chill them and wait until serving time, or freeze them in a tray and when frozen put them in a plastic bag for use later.
- Heat the oil to medium temperature (the oil should be deep enough to come to half the height of the croquettes). Fry the croquettes slowly as you need to make sure the inside is well cooked. When golden on one side turn them over and continue frying until golden on the other side.
- Remove from the oil and put on kitchen paper towel to absorb excess oil.
The croquettes can also be serve at room temperature for a picnic or made smaller (half the size) and served as finger food.