Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Chicken Enchiladas Verde
I have trouble thinking of enchiladas verde as a "fall food" since they are so bright and green and fundamentally spring-like in my head... but I bought the tomatillos and chili peppers for this recipe up at a farmer's market in Maine about two weeks ago, so I guess that makes them a fall food whether I can wrap my head around it or not. I wasn't particularly planning enchiladas when I picked out the tomatillos, but I knew I was going to make something verde, and tomatillos are produce that I try to pick up every time I see them... I just love their bright tartness.

In the end made Rick Bayless's Roasted Tomatillo salsa (multiplying quantities by 4 for 2 lbs of tomatillos)... omitting the onion because I was planning on using diced white onion as a garnish... and then substituted that as the salsa verde in the Simply Recipes' chicken enchiladas verde recipe because you should always roast tomatillos and chilis because... it's just a fact. A tasty fact. That Simply Recipes recipe is the first hit when you search for "enchiladas verdes" so if you've ever even considered the dish you've probably seen her recipe, but I was actually surprised to discover it did not have any baking time for the enchiladas at the end. You just use the oven to keep everything warm while you are assembling the enchiladas, which makes this a pretty good weeknight dinner option if you make the chicken and salsa ahead of time. Indeed, I found myself assembling a single (oven safe) plate on enchiladas for a bachelor dinner and just sticking it in a 200 degree oven for a few minutes to make sure it was warm.

A good solid recipe that is very worth making.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Peter Reinhart's Bagels Revisited

Homemade Bagels
We've made these bagels a handful of times since I first wrote about them in 2010. It's a recipe made internet famous by Smitten Kitchen (like many, many internet famous food things) but one that many consider a little too fussy to be getting on with. Now I'll grant you, Reinhart's recipe is a two day process so it's no good if you want bagels RIGHT THE HELL NOW, but if you are going through the trouble of making your own bagels then I ask you: what's the point of cutting corners? Frankly I find it to be an advantage that it's spread out over two days because it means the morning you are preparing them is devoted solely to boiling and baking. Otherwise there are two exotic ingredients involved: high gluten flour and malt powder. You can just use bread flour or you can go in for something like this. I've seen Sir Lancelot flour at a well stocked Whole Foods and a co-op in Maine, but you might need to order it online if you are intent on super authentic bagel flour... if you do look in a store just make sure you don't come home with vital wheat gluten by accident. I think you could probably doctor up some all purpose flour with a few tablespoons of it, but it's important to note that while it is super high in gluten content it's not actually flour and is what people use to make seitan... and seitan bagels sound pretty gross.

We've used malt powder in the past, but when I went to grab some for this recipe it had turned into a solid malty block. I guess you are supposed to freeze it to store it, who knew? (well people who read the packaging probably) We substituted a little brown sugar as suggested and I thought the bagels tasted great, so I'm not sure I'll bother with it again.

These are a great little project and well worth making. I'm no bagel connoisseur, but I feel like these are worlds better than 90% of the bagels out there and will give even the very best a run for their money.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spicy Sous Vide BBQ Pork Chop and Collards with Bacon

Spicy BBQ Pork Chop and Collards with Bacon
This was a fairly simple meal that was one of my more successful cooking efforts in recent memory. Largely because of serendipity with complimentary flavors between the two dishes, wherein the apple cider vinegar in the collards and bbq sauce really unified the plate. In addition, I think the ancho chili powder I used in the dry rub for the pork accented the smokiness of the bacon in the collards. Complete and total luck for my part, as this was certainly not something I was thinking when I picked the dishes to go together... but it was definitely something I noticed as I tried to figure out why this meal was especially good. The pork chop was from Kenji at Serious Eats and the collards from Simply Recipes, with both recipes followed as written (though my chops were boneless). The collards were especially awesome, and I can't praise Elise's recipe enough... though my vegetarian wife was none too pleased with my "ruining" of a perfectly good pot of collards with bacon (I may in fact try a vegetarian version with liquid smoke).

I don't intend for this to become a "modernist" food blog... I have no plans to start messing with meat glue or spherification... but sous vide really is becoming my default for cooking meat. My favorite cooking is probably always going to be slow braises and hearty stews and the like, but if you ever see a pork chop, steak, or chicken breast on this blog it will most likely cooked sous vide. I don't really feel bad about that fact since I pretty much never cooked those things conventionally before anyway, and I think the picture below makes the case for sous vide quite strongly:
Sous Vide Spicy BBQ Pork Chop
That's the juiciest most perfectly cooked pork chop I could ever hope to make, and the fact is that sous vide makes it incredibly easy. The argument has always been one of price, but beyond the $100 DorkFood device I use, there are new all-in-one devices that are hitting at around a $200 price point. So I don't think sous vide is going to remain just a fad for cooking geeks... I'm not going to go as far as to say they'll be as ubiquitous as microwaves, but I think it's a cooking technique that is coming to the mainstream someday soon, so if you are not a fan you had best get used to it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes

White Beeans and Roasted Tomatoes
We're well into Fall at this point, so the days of perfect summer tomatoes that just need a little salt to be delicious are long since past. Roasting gives you a way to get a lot of flavor even out of lame super market tomatoes or whatever might still be in your garden. The recipe is from Epicurious, and was quite good. However I will note that while the 500 degree oven temperature is great for getting the tomatoes roasted in less than an hour, all the liquid from the tomatoes turned into a black coating on my roasting pan that took steel wool to get off... though on the bright side that's the cleanest my roasting pan has been since I bought it. If I do this again I think I'd go with Alton Brown's Slow Roasted Tomatoes, not letting them get all the way to the point where they are like sun dried tomatoes but where they still have a fair bit of moisture (more like 6-8 hours at 200 degrees).