Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beer sausage and pepper pasta sauce

So, since school started, I've been pretty bad at cooking/keeping up with this blog. I've been meaning to put this recipe up for a while, because I think it is pretty great. And it is my own creation, basically.

I read about some beer sausage and peppers recipes, because I used to love beer brawts. I wanted to make a vegetarian (and ultimately vegan) version, but instead decided to turn it into a pasta.

So, here is what you need:

1pkg Tofurkey italian sausage (It is surprisingly delicious, especially in a sauce. Even a meat lover would probably enjoy it.)
1 red bell, coarsely chopped
1 green bell, coarse
2 carrots, shredded
3 roma tomatoes, coarse
1 red onion (processed or minced, or if you love onions, coarsely chopped)
garlic (either 2-3 cloves, or a few tbsps)
1 tbsp olive oil
8-10 mushrooms, quartered
1 12 ozcan tomato paste
An indeterminate amount of the following
Fennel Seed
Red Pepper flakes
Brown Sugar
The reason I say indeterminate amount, is because I just eyeball it. And then ultimately add them to taste. Brown sugar, be careful with. I'd guess approx 2 tbsps. Depends how sweet you like your sauces. But pretty much everything I add a healthy assload.
1-1.5 12 oz can/bottle of beer (you could probably even go up to 2, depending upon how saucy or thick you prefer your sauce.)

Sufjan Stevens, Album: Come on! Feel the Illinois!

So, start by preparing your onion in the way you see fit. I hate the texture of onions, so I process the hell out of mine. Put them in a big pot, and brown them with the garlic and olive oil. While you are doing that, chop up your bell peppers and quarter your mushrooms. Toss them in after browning a while. At this point, I would add the brown sugar, and basil, oregano, and marjoram. Let that stuff cook down a bit. Then, add the shredded carrots.

While you are doing all of this, sear your sausages and then put aside, and eventually cut into pieces. Pretty much however you prefer your sausage size to be.

Once your veggies have cooked almost to the softness point you prefer, add the roma tomatoes. After that all cooks a few minutes, its time to add the can of tomato paste, and the beer. Once all that is stirred in, add probably an equal amount of the previously added spices (minus the sugar) and then fennel seed and rosemary and red pepper. Do it to taste. Then, add your sausage. At that point, I usually start cooking my pasta, and I let the sauce simmer till the pasta is ready.

This will feed AT LEAST 4 people, possibly more. I will be eating this for the rest of the week. I wouldn't mix the pasta with the sauce unless you plan on eating it all in one sitting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Multi cultural quinoa

So it is obvious that I am really bad at maintaining more than one blog at a time, as is made evident by my 5 or 6 blogs that get updated basically never. I am, however, going to keep trying this one. I just have been pretty busy over the last month or so, and haven't cooked as much as I'd have liked. I HAVE cooked things I wanted to blog about, but being basically unemployed and lazy (I think the 2 become synonymous, after a time) I just haven't been motivated to sit down and write them out. So, here we go again.

I recently (as of yesterday) discovered quinoa, which is a pretty kickass little grain. It is, apparently, a great source of protein, and provides all of the essential amino acids, which is apparently of concern to people who don't eat meat. I bought an organic, 4lb bag of it at Costco for about 9 dollars.

I don't know what I'd call this little recipe--maybe Mexican/Indian/Peruvian quinoa. Whatever it is, it was tasty, so here you go. I realize that the picture is one sorry assed depiction of this dish, but I sort of took it as an afterthought. Here is what you need:

1 c of Quinoa
2 c of water
3 tsp of cumin, divided
2 tsp of coriander, divided
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp tumeric, divided
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
Diced cilantro
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
black pepper
1tbsp olive oil
Arcade Fire, Album: The Suburbs

Quinoa takes about 15 minutes or so to cook. You basically cook it the same way as rice. I neglected to cover the pot, so the water was pretty much gone before it finished cooking, so mine was a little more coarse than what is normal, which I actually didn't mind. Once that gets cooking, add 1.5 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp coriander, and 1 tsp tumeric, and salt to taste. Once your quinoa has cooked for a while, you can taste it and see if you feel like you want more flavor, and add more spices accordingly.

So while your quinoa is cooking, saute your garlic, olive oil, and red bell pepper. If you like onions, I feel like adding half or a whole minced onion to this would be a good idea. I was going to do it, but thought of it too late. In that case, I'd probably up the quantity of your spices. Once your bell pepper gets to the consistency you like, add the beans and the corn. Then add the rest of your spices, 1.5 tsp cumin, 1 tsp tumeric, 1 tsp coriander, and salt and pepper to taste. I just let that cook until the quinoa was ready.

At that point, I just dumped the corn-bean-pepper concoction into the pot with the quinoa and mixed it. I think if you were trying to create a more ascetically pleasing look, dishing the quinoa first, and then topping it with the corn and beans would look nicer. It was just me and my friend Adam, so I really didn't give a damn. Top with chopped cilantro, as much as you like for taste.

I think the ideal way to eat this meal, is actually to eat it the next day. I reheated it for lunch today, and it tasted about twice as good, which is what I find to be the case with most Indian food I make.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Southwest chipotle bell peppers

So I decided to try my hand at a stuffed bell pepper. I had 5 of them laying around, and I was pretty sure they wouldn't get used in time if I were using them normally. Plus, I always really like stuffed bell peppers. Even as a kid. Of course, when I ate them as a kid, they were probably stuffed with hamburger. And I likely didn't touch the pepper part. I just probably dug the hamburger out of it.

I thought maybe making some sort of a southwestern style bell would be good. So here is what you need:

3 chipotle peppers. Probably a good idea to cut the seeds out.
1 onion (minced)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 4 oz can of green chilis, diced
1 mango (diced into little cubes)
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro
2 1/2 tsp chili power
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp adobada (from the can of chipotle peppers) sauce
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
Some form of grated cheese (I used romano, because it's what I had)
Thom Yorke, Album: The Eraser

I browned the onions, green chilis, and the garlic with the olive oil for a few minutes. Until they were brown. Obviously. Then, I threw in the chili powder, and the cumin and mixed them up well with the onions. Once well mixed, add the beans and corn. Once that is mixed, add the adobada sauce and the diced chipotle peppers, and the oregano. Once that mixture was pretty hot, I added the cilantro, tomatoes, and the diced mango, and squeezed in half a lime. I let that all simmer for about 4 or 5 minutes.

Previous to this, digging all the seeds and white junk out of your bell peppers is a good idea. With the remaining lime wedges, I squeezed lime juice in each of the 5 bell peppers, and then packed them full of the concoction. Now, if you wanted to make this more flavorful, and more fatty, adding an assload of cheese to the mixture right before you spoon it in the peppers would be a good idea. Or, you could layer it, which might be even better. A spoon full of mixture, a layer of cheese, again and again till the pepper is full. I just put some romano on top, because that is all I had. Then, I put the peppers in the oven and broiled them on low for about 15 minutes.

They ended up being about a 4 on the spicy scale (from 1-10, 10 being on fire) but this could probably be reduced with less chili powder, and maybe add more cumin instead. If you love cilantro, there could have probably been more of that too. Weirdly, the leftovers were actually more tasty than when they first came out of the oven.

Anyway, I feel like there is a lot here that could be modified. Maybe instead of so much corn and beans, you could do a seasoned rice, which would add more flavor. I think I'd have probably added more chipotle peppers as well. But the can I bought only had 3 in it. A very crapy can.

Roasted red pepper-sun dried tomato-chipotle hummus

I've loved hummus for a pretty long time. Something about the cold grittiness of the texture, really makes my mouth happy, and typically causes said mouth to want to cram as much of it into itself as possible in one sitting. Hummus is typically pretty low fat, which is good. But that also depends upon how it is made.

I have been making my own for a couple of months now. I wont go back to store bought hummus. What's the point? This recipe is easy, (mostly) makes quite a bit, and is more delicious than any store bought stuff I've had. It was this hummus that made me fall in love with my Cuisine Art food processor, which was a Christmas gift from my darling sister, which was actually a re-gift from her wedding. I'd love to get married, if only to have lots of extra kitchen/cooking appliances laying around. I suppose if you had one hell of a blender, you could probably do this recipe. But it may be tough to execute. Here is what you need to make this spectacular roasted red pepper-sun dried tomato-chipotle hummus:

2 (15.5 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (get real, you can use the bottle stuff too)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
The National, Album: High Violet

Now, let me make a few comments about some of the ingredients. The first time I made this, I spent like 7 bucks on a jar of tahini. My sister told me that she made hummus, put in the called for tahini amount, and her hummus tasted like ass. So, I tasted the tahini. And sure enough, it tasted like ass. So I decided to cut the amount in half. The next time I made it, I completely omitted it. I couldn't really tell a difference. I think that the other ingredients in this particular hummus are so flavorful, that the tahini wouldn't do much anyways. Plus, if you are looking to add less fat, zero tahini = mucho less fat.

I have also done everything from 2 tbps of oil, to half that, to none. Besides a slight texture difference, I haven't minded completely omitting the olive oil. Again, it all depends upon whether or not you want added fat in your hummus. This can be virtually free of saturated fats, if you avoid the oil and tahini all together.

How much you like the smokey flavor of chipotle peppers, should determine how many peppers you actually put in. If you just put in one, it isn't likely to add much flavor, and very little heat. I love chipotles, so I usually add 4 or 5 peppers. This does make the hummus a bit spicy, but not too overpowering. My tongue is sort of a baby when it comes to spicy foods, and it isn't too much for me to handle. You could always remove some seeds if you wanted the flavor, but not so much heat.

I have found pretty cheap, bulk dried sun dried tomatoes at the Smiths in the Avenues. It was right next to the ginger root in that store. I bought about .90 cents worth, vs the 5 or 6 bucks I had to spend on a jar of them. Might be worth looking into. I did, however, get 2 or 3 batches of hummus from one jar.

So here is what you do: Dump the 2 cans of garbanzo beans in your food processor. Don't panic if this mostly fills the processor up. Everything else will cram in. Add the water, the oil and tahini (if you want them) the lemon juice, chipotle pepper(s), cumin, and garlic. Then process the hell out of it. Once done, add the roasted red peppers, the sun dried tomatoes, cilantro, and salt and pepper. At this point, I have both, once again, processed the hell out of everything, or just pulsed these final ingredients until finely chopped. As far as taste goes, nothing really changes. But texture and appearance obviously do. I think the coarser look is actually prettier, but ultimately it is personal preference.

Once finished, chill and enjoy. This hummus, I fed to my uncle who was a total hater, and scoffed at the idea of a tasty hummus. He shut up pretty quick upon tasting this, and subsequently ate about 1/4 of the container. I'm telling you, this is a winner.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Caprino stuffed tomatoes

I am a lover of goat cheese. Before giving up things that bleed, I was of the impression that any meat was vastly improved by the addition of goat cheese. Goat cheese on a hot dog? Yep. Even a hotdog becomes something akin to gourmet with a healthy dollop of goat cheese on top.

I had an assload of baby bella mushrooms in my fridge, from a Costco trip last Saturday that I had forgotten about, and then rediscovered this morning. I decided that maybe making stuffed mushrooms would be a good idea. So whilst browsing the interweb for mushroom recipes, I came across the idea of a stuffed tomato. And stuffed with goat cheese, of all things. I decided to modify it a bit, and add garlic and mushrooms to the mix, even though I had to buy entirely new mushrooms, due to the fact that the ones I had smelled like death.

Here's what you need:

About 1/2 a portobello and 3 cremini mushrooms, finely diced (you could probably use any sort of mushroom, really, but I am a mushroom snob, and therefore went with the portobello)
5 oz of goat cheese (I used 1/2 of an 11 oz log)
Half a roasted bell pepper, diced (these come in jars, if you don't want to roast your own)
4 garlic cloves
4-6 vine ripe tomatoes, medium sized
2 basil leaves
3-4 tablespoons of bread crumbs (one slice in a food processor will pretty much do it)
Black pepper
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
Pandora-Ratatat Radio

After dicing the mushrooms and mincing the garlic, I sauteed them with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. I really have no idea exactly how much i used, because I always just eyeball olive oil, and try to use as little as possible. While that was happening, I cut the tops off of the tomatoes, and then dug out the insides with a small spoon. Be careful not to poke a hole in, or rip the walls of the tomato, or you will be screwed. But dig out as much as you can, and then flip them upside down on a paper towel so they drain a bit more.

I then put the goat cheese log in a mixing bowl, dumped in the sauteed mushrooms and garlic, and the diced roasted red peppers, and stirred and mashed it all together. Then I added a couple tablespoons of bread crumbs, which I thought might help keep it all together once the cheese got hot. Again, I sort of just eyeballed it, but it was about 2-3 tablespoons. Once that was well mixed, I transferred the cheese concoction into the tomatoes, filling them completely. Then, I sprinkled a layer of bread crumbs on top of the tomatoes, and topped it off with little strips of basil. I then drizzled olive oil over the top of the basil, and stuck them in the oven.

I initially had the oven on High broil, but once they were in there, I thought maybe low would be better. So I cooked them on low broil for about 8 minutes, until the crumbs were browned, and I could hear some cheese bubbling.

To say these things were good, would be a gross understatement. I don't know that I've ever cooked something so mind blowingly delicious. I was seriously blown away. It was such a flavorful entree. I thought the caprino cheese would mostly overpower everything, but the mushrooms and red peppers held their own, and lent the whole concoction a subtle flavor that was spectacular.

I ended up eating 3 of them. I think, with other sides added, 2 tomatoes per person would be alright.

I promise you, any moron can make this. Try it. You won't be sorry.